You’ve just had a successful event after months of intense planning. It’s been a long few days on-site with little rest, coupled with an endless backlog of emails to now catch up on. Your mind automatically switches to your next event, but wait, your job isn’t finished yet – not even when the event itself is over.

As part of the event timeline, a debrief is almost as important as the details you’ve organised beforehand. Debriefing an event simply means asking a series of targeted questions about the event itself. It’s important you have a firm grasp on what happened, analysing the event in detail in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses. You may feel as though you already know them but discussing these vocally and writing them down is a hugely valuable exercise.

Most importantly debriefing enables you to identify how you can build on the experience the following year. This doesn’t have to mean the organisational parts, but perhaps more importantly the attendee experience.

Remember, debriefs are the prelude to event innovation.

Here at Hippo we split our Debriefs into two sections: External and Internal.

External debriefs are conducted with your client.

This can either be through a call or a face-to-face meeting (preferably). It’s important to establish their thoughts and feelings both on the pre-event and on-site stages. This is your chance to ask as many questions as you like and ask for constructive feedback from their personal experience and that of colleagues and attendees.

Analyse the attendee feedback in detail. These are questions that should have been posed directly to the audience, and should deal primarily with engagement, content and overall experience. Take the findings and mind map some ideas for the future, enhancing the positives and solving the negatives. Basically, you want to know if your attendees received your event messaging, and how you can make their experience better in the future.

Consider the timing of your debrief with your client. Do they need to gather any information or feedback from the attendees first? This crucial data will help measure the success of the event, enabling you to have more transparency on what worked and what didn’t. Come up with ideas there and then while the Conference or Product Launch for example is still fresh in mind.

Here’s a starting guide to the questions you should be asking:

1. Were the objectives met?
2. Was your communication regular, clear and delivered in the manner required?
3. Budget analysis – overall and breakdown?
4. How effective and efficient was the registration process?
5. Was the tech used easy to implement and user friendly?

Debriefs should be conducted internally as well.

How will you improve your service if you haven’t analysed yourself? There’s something to be said for removing yourself from a situation to think more proactively about it. Our advise is to take yourself away from the many distractions (emails and phones!) and gather all those involved from your team for their input. Include those who worked on-site, not just the pre-event team.

Debriefing the internal side of your event requires that you analyse how effective the physical planning of the event was. These questions are aimed at your team. Consider the suppliers used, the flow of information, the productivity, resource, finances and time spent on the event.

It’s easy to concentrate on what you didn’t do so well rather than what you did. Don’t be led by the former as identifying the areas in which you excelled is equally as important. Hopefully these come naturally within your organisation, however, to improve is to build on what you already do, and without identifying the positives how do you know what you’re doing right?

1. Did we meet deadlines?
2. How were the communication levels internally?
3. Were we sufficiently staffed on-site?
4. What ideas do we have for next years’ event?
5. What did we learn?

Debriefing an event is a crucial step for any Event Planner in gathering the feedback necessary to keep your events innovative and efficient. Conducting both an external and internal debrief will ensure that you know exactly how everyone involved feels about the event produced. You will establish a working knowledge of what worked, what didn’t, and how you can build on that information to keep yourself, your clients and the attendees coming back for more.

Hippo offer Event Project Management and Global Venue Finding services. Please feel free to contact us today on 01372 460 100 or email on