Assess Your Event’s Success with a Post-Event Debrief (+ Template)

March 13, 2024

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The big day is over.

And you most likely feel a big sense of relief – but the work isn’t over (just yet).

Taking a step back to thoughtfully dissect your event can be a game-changer in identifying those tweak-worthy spots while also giving a high-five to what really hit the mark. This kind of reflection is gold – and often overlooked – especially after you've poured your heart, soul, and resources into the event.

A post-event debrief helps you identify what went right, what went wrong, and what to do next time to get that much closer to your ideal event ROI.

With the right post-event debrief template, you can put the post-mortem process on autopilot and empower your entire event team to keep leveling up your events, without asking for hours more of their time.

In this article, we’ll share steps for creating a comprehensive post-event debrief. It will tell you everything you need to know about where to double down for your next event, plus a free customizable debrief template to help you cover all the right bases in your analysis.

post-event debrief

What is a post-event debrief?

A post-event debrief, sometimes called a post-mortem or wrap-up, is a post-event meeting that gathers the team together to dissect what did and didn’t work. The aim is to refine the planning process for the next event.

Post-event debrief template

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What are the benefits of a post-event debrief?

We get it. After countless hours of planning and preparation, no one on your event team wants to be asked to do just “one more thing”.

But taking a moment to stop and reflect while the event is still fresh in your heads is a great way to tie a bow around all your hard work. Not only that, your debrief meeting is a prime opportunity to give kudos to all the people who worked so hard behind the scenes to make your event a success.

Here’s why you definitely do not want to skip the post-event debrief.

Galvanize future successes

By actively reviewing what went well, you can create a proven blueprint for future events. Whether you’re looking to elevate the company’s flagship annual conference or scale a monthly webinar series, a well-structured post-event debrief gives you a foundation you can build on.

Address current challenges

Just as it’s important to celebrate your wins, it’s also critical to take a clear-eyed look at any challenges that arose during the event. Even the biggest and brightest five-star events have room for growth and improvement—so don’t shy away from the feedback.

Think of your post-event debrief as a launch pad for brainstorming new, innovative solutions that will make your next event even better.

Promote team growth

At the end of the day, your debrief isn't just about the event itself. It’s also about your team.

Regardless of your event role or responsibilities, you’ve worked hard together for weeks, or even months. This meeting is your best opportunity to reflect, learn, and celebrate your collective hard work.

Uncover hidden opportunities

In the process of dissecting your event, you may discover unexpected opportunities. These could range from potential collaborations, areas of expansion, or even latent talents within your team. A strong debrief process helps you capitalize on your strengths, while actively revealing new ways to use them.

Last but not least, the post-event debrief also creates a sense of accountability among the team.

By making it clear that everyone's opinion matters, and that the feedback your team shares in the post-event debrief will actually be applied to future events, your debriefs can help you create a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Analytics Dashboard

Essential elements of an effective post-event debrief

Believe it or not, the idea of a retrospective or “aftermath debriefing” goes back at least as far as the 1970s when the US Army developed its After-Action Review (AAR).

According to The Wharton School, an effective AAR encourages active discussion around the following four questions:

  • What did we intend to accomplish? What was our strategy?
  • What did we do? How did we execute relative to our strategy?
  • Why did it happen that way? Why was there a difference between strategy and execution?
  • What will we do to adapt our strategy or refine our execution for a better outcome? Or, how do we repeat our success?

The AAR framework can be applied to your post-event debrief to help the entire event team understand exactly where to level up.

However, the specific event functions and team members involved will vary based on your organizational goals, audience makeup, event format, and more.

Here are some of the core features of an effective post-event debrief.

1. A clear agenda

In addition to your post-event debrief template, you’ll also want to make sure you have a loose agenda to help keep the discussion on track.

The following steps will help you start your event debrief meeting on the right foot:

  • Invite relevant stakeholders: Be it your event management, sales, or CS team, everyone who has a significant input should be invited.
  • Begin with positives: Start the meeting on a positive note by discussing what worked well. This will make everyone feel valued and ready to discuss the pitfalls.
  • Discuss the areas of improvement: This is where you bring up the things that didn't go as planned. Encourage an open and non-blaming culture where people feel comfortable sharing their opinions.
  • Document everything: Every bit of information or feedback received should be documented for future reference and analysis.
  • Formulate a follow-up plan: Create an action plan with the information gathered at the debrief. Assign clear action items to make sure the necessary improvements are made.

Once you have a rough timeline for your debrief meeting, start outlining the top questions you and the team will seek to answer.

2. The right set of debrief questions

You can adapt your debrief session to focus on any number of questions depending on your specific event goals and objectives.

Here are some of the most important questions to ask and answer in your post-event debrief:

  • Did we achieve our main objectives? Consider what you set out to do and evaluate whether those goals were met.
  • What feedback have attendees given us? Check out your post-event survey results, questionnaire feedback, social media mentions, emails, and even off-the cuff feedback to gauge attendee satisfaction.
  • What was the overall attendee experience? This goes beyond simply whether they enjoyed the event. Pinpoint where they found value.
  • Did our team function effectively? Review how communication and coordination of tasks worked out on the event day.
  • What did success look like from a logistical perspective? Did your event run smoothly and on time? Were there any technical hitches?
  • Did we stick to our budget? Determine how well you allocated resources and if there were any areas of over-expenditure.
  • What aspects were more challenging than expected? Reflect on any hiccups during the planning or running of the event and why they occurred.
  • Which processes worked best? Analyze the workflows, event planner, checklists, timelines, and other resources that delivered effectively so you can keep doing what works.
  • What improvements can we make for future events? Following your observations and reflections, highlight areas where refinement or significant changes might be needed.

With the right set of questions, you can use your event debrief to identify which event strategies may need to be adjusted before your next meeting.

3. Detailed event analytics

Once you have your initial list of questions ready, use your post-event data to take the conversation deeper.

By analyzing your core KPIs and event metrics, you and your event team can find out which sessions and speakers were the most impactful, which sponsor booths were the most popular, and which attendees were the most engaged.

Adjust your post-event debrief template to compare your actual vs. expected results in the following areas:

  • Number of Registrations: Total number of registrations for your event.
  • Number of Live Attendees: Total number of live attendees, including those who attended live and also watched on-demand.
  • Attendance Rate: The conversion of live attendees vs. registration for your event.
  • Total Companies: Total distinct number of companies that event registrants belong to.
  • Number of On Demand Attendees: Inclusive of those who have attended an event live and then also watched it on-demand.
  • Average Time Spent Per Session: Gives you insight into which sessions drew the most engagement.

If you already use a digital event platform with deep attendee analytics, you should be able to visualize your post-event data in a customizable dashboard without having to wrangle the data manually or get into the weeds with Excel macros.

For example, Goldcast users get access to a range of attendee engagement data, a done-for-you event summary report, and insight into the opens and link clicks in your event registration emails.

event roi dashboard

4. A clear plan of action

And now, the biggest item on your debrief meeting agenda: the action plan.

After your event, you need to ensure a seamless handoff of actionable event data and attendee insights to your sales team. But that’s not all.

You may also have other big priorities to stay on top of post-event, including video content repurposing, generating content for other top channels, personalizing your sales follow-up emails, and more.

To make sure everyone on your team knows exactly what to do and when, take a minute to:

  • Summarize the analysis and action plan in writing
  • Include action items with a clear date and task owner
  • Schedule a follow up with each member

From driving pipeline to creating a multi-channel content repurposing strategy, the right post-event plan can help you get more out of every event.

A successful event doesn’t happen overnight

More often than not, it’s the result of countless past wins and failures. The only question is, are you learning as you go?

With Goldcast, you can access robust data analytics to easily visualize the impact of one, or even multiple events, on your revenue pipeline. After your event closes, use Content Lab to repurpose your best moments as videos, blog posts, and more.

By taking the time to understand why things went the way it did, you can bring all the pieces together for a complete, end-to-end view of your event process. And with the right platform, you’ll have everything you need to make that process even more efficient.

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