July 2016
Video: Research on Smile Sheets - What it Means for Your Organization

Two Enormously Essential Questions Your Education Participants Must Answer

Smile Sheet Questions -- New Examples July 2016

Education Session Evaluations 
Conference organizers who utilize education as a differentiator or value driver require feedback for continuous improvement and growth. The four most significant obstacles with session evaluations are:  
  1. Poor return rates
  2. Little to no qualitative responses
  3. Reliance on Likert scale averages (scientifically proven to be unreliable)
  4. Peer review has become too nice
To expedite collection and tabulation, many conferences have moved away from paper evaluations, and switched to app or web-based solutions. Most have seen a decrease in digital responses vs. the old method. As a knee-jerk reaction, the number of survey questions have been cut back to encourage more responses.
The solution you utilize doesn't matter, . The two most critical changes conference organizers should consider are:  
  • Coach speakers and moderators to stop five minutes early. Make them accountable for getting at least a 50% return rate.
  • Go beyond the smile sheet evaluation by crafting questions that make respondents think.
There is no magic evaluation template that fits everyone's needs. The articles in this newsletter can help guide you toward crafting results-based questions that complement your learning strategy. 

We're continuing our webinar series at 2:00 PM EDT on Tuesday, August 9th. The topic will be Meetings With Impact: How Leaders Create Strategic Conversations For Change, presented by Jeff Hurt EVP, Education and Engagement. If you'd like to participate, click here to review and register. 
anchor1The Trouble with Evals
The feedback form is such a fixture in the meetings industry that you would think it would have been perfected by now. But as a new Convene survey suggests, it's a tool that is ripe for redesign.

It may be time to rethink how they are designed and delivered. Only half of the respondents said that they were satisfied with their current survey practices, but only 9 percent were actively looking for ways to improve them.

Your education offerings only produce business value when participants transfer their learning to their work.
Their applied learning to their job is the real reward of your education efforts.

This means that your education offerings should be delivered in ways that are the easiest to learn and apply. Not delivered in ways that are easiest to create and present.

anchor3Smile Sheet Questions -- New Examples July 2016

Traditional smile sheets tend to focus on learners' satisfaction and learners' assessments of the value of the learning experience. Scientific research shows us that such learner surveys are not likely to be correlated with learning results. Performance-focused smile sheets offer several process improvements:


Avoid Likert-like scales and numerical scales which create a garbage-in garbage-out problem, which don't offer clear delineations between answer choices, which don't support respondent decision-making, and which open responding to bias. Instead, utilize concrete answer choices, giving respondents more granularity, and enabling much more meaningful results.


Most conferences   suck at collecting data. (Oh, we're good at collecting registration and fees but that's about it!) It requires work, intentionality, time and interpretation to get the feedback we need to make improvements and drive innovation.

I like what CEO and meetings professional Hugh Plappert says about conference measurement:

Measuring requires planning. Planning requires responding to measuring. Most humans do not like to do either. They rather thrive on inspiration and positive emotional responses, and blame their problems on things out of their control.

Surveys That Make People Think  

There is "a ton of room for improvement" in the typical conference feedback form, says learning expert Will Thalheimer, Ph.D., especially those using the popular Likert scale. Favored by 87 percent ofConvene 's survey respondents, Likert-like scales provide a continuum of answer options, such as "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree," or 1 to 5.

But Thalheimer's research indicates that people seem to prefer questions that have more discernible answer choices as opposed to general Likert options. "I think when people see the answer choices are more concrete, they know that the questions are better," he said. "You see a typical smile sheet, and people circle the same numbers all the way down. They're not really thinking and then they're not really giving you good data."