This is a guest post from Fiona Whitehead, Expansion Lead at General Assembly, a pioneer in education and career transformation, specialising in today’s most in-demand skills.

As any trainer knows, it’s not always easy to get positive feedback across the board. Sometimes, it’s a challenge just to get people to give feedback in the first place. However, it’s important to gather as much feedback as possible after a workshop and to ask the right questions. Not only will it help you to improve the quality of your next workshop, but you may also get some fantastic ideas for another class.

Use the following tips and tricks to increase the response rate of your attendees and receive even better feedback after a workshop.

How to encourage as much feedback as possible

1. Get your students’ feedback while they’re still in the room or online

At General Assembly London workshops, we waste no time in collecting feedback. Students are less likely to provide feedback once they’ve left the room. So, we remind them to fill out our quick paper survey at the end of class. They’re usually happy to reciprocate, since we’ve just provided them with a thought-provoking workshop. Plus, it’s harder for them to rush out of the room when they see other attendees scribbling away. If your workshop is online, send attendees a link to your workshop feedback questionnaire beforehand and remind them to complete it at the end of the livestream.

2. A short, well-written feedback form works best

This one may seem obvious, but it’s definitely worth including. Whether it’s online or on paper, keep your workshop feedback form short, simple, and relaxed in tone. And if you’re using paper, size is important – A5 seems unobtrusive, whereas a full A4 sheet might be intimidating in length. For virtual workshops, consider an event feedback app. It gives you functionality to play with when it comes to workshop debrief questions. For instance, you can use interactive question types, like sliding scale responses and star ratings, to make the process of giving feedback much more engaging.

3. Introduce your survey right from the start

In the introduction to your workshop, let your attendees know that you’ll be asking for their feedback at the end, and explain how it’ll help you to prepare even better content in future. This way, requesting feedback seems like less of an afterthought, and also prepares your students for it to be asked of them at the end.

How to boost positive responses

1. Make a good first impression

It may sound clichéd, but first impressions are always important. Being friendly right from the get-go sets the tone of the workshop and ensures people feel welcome. Say “Hi” to each attendee as they arrive or enter the virtual workshop, then introduce yourself. If the workshop is in person, check that participants know where to get coffee or where the toilets are. For online workshops, make sure they know how to use the platform, like how to turn their camera or microphone on and off, or how to use the chat function. This helps to avoid any awkward moments and puts attendees at ease. Find more ways to keep your online attendees happy.

2. Find out why your attendees are there

Take five minutes at the beginning of your workshop to do a quick pulse-check. Whether in-person or online, ask each attendee to introduce themselves and share what it is that they’re looking to get out of your session. Even better, ask this question at the point an attendee purchases their ticket. You might not be able to hit every single one of their asks in your session, but this still gives you the chance to tailor your class to your attendees, even on the fly.

3. Get your attendees talking

Get your attendees talking to and engaging with each other. Not only does it help to break the ice, but students will learn from the experiences of their fellow classmates. Give them the opportunity to brainstorm with each other in pairs or small groups. Many video platforms allow you to create virtual breakout rooms, so it’s still possible for attendees to network online. The more convivial the atmosphere, the more positive the feedback is likely to be.

4. Back-to-school essentials

As a trainer, you’ll always want to provide the most worthwhile content possible in the most digestible format. Some useful lessons our General Assembly faculty have taught us include:

  • Use real-life examples. Your attendees have come to hear from you, the professional, and they’ll want to know how you have dealt with situations or clients in your working life.
  • Be clear with your agenda. Throughout your class, be certain to link back to how each section of your workshop relates to or builds on the previous section (or to your last workshop, if it’s a series). Adult learners often need this to help them to understand the value of what they’re learning.
  • Finally, after your workshop, be sure to provide a resources list and actionable tips that your attendees can start using right away.

5. Explain how feedback works

Briefly explain the importance of feedback after a workshop and how it works, especially if you are grading yourself against the Net Promoter Score (NPS). And if you’re using NPS, it might be worth explaining to your students how 7s and 8s out of 10 signify that an attendee felt passive about a session. This can be a little contentious, and perhaps may seem like cheating. But with NPS, cultural differences often apply. For example, it’s fairly common in the UK for someone to rate a class 8 out of 10, even when they’ve thoroughly enjoyed a session.

6. Take some feedback with a pinch of salt

It’s not unheard of for a workshop leader to read all of their training feedback and find that everyone has said something different, or even given opposing views. What’s more, there are those attendees who will never give 10 out of 10, even if they loved everything about your workshop – I’ve seen this written on a feedback form more than once.

Don’t beat yourself up too much. You’ve done an amazing thing, putting together a workshop and sharing your expertise with others. Learn what you can from the feedback, amend your next session with it in mind, then put those forms away and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

Streamline the process

Gathering feedback after a workshop doesn’t need to be a hassle. You can automate the process to save time and make your analysis much easier. Whether you’re holding an in-person or online workshop, Eventbrite integrates with survey software that will help you transform your post-event process. SurveyMonkey allows you to automatically send out customised workshop feedback forms to attendees, while Zoho Survey has specially designed templates for events so that you can set up a data collection system in minutes.

Find out how to create an effective post-event survey.

About author:

Fiona Whitehead | @fiwhitehead

Fiona Whitehead, Expansion Lead at General Assembly, has run the London campus’ workshops business since October 2014. In this time, GA has more than doubled the number of workshops run per quarter, and the average workshop net promoter score has risen 30%. Recently, her role has grown to include the support of General Assembly’s expansion efforts throughout the UK and Europe. A former Asia expat, Fiona also has a passion for fitness and baked treats (not necessarily in that order).

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