“Furthermore, you cannot assume that just because everything you did last year to make your event a success is the same stuff you need to do this time around.”

Life gets busy. Sometimes, we can get caught up in what we’re doing, slide into autopilot, and forget to stop and think about why we are doing what we’re doing.

The other day I caught myself taking clean clothes out of the dryer and matching up my daughter’s socks, folding them, and then putting them in a neat pile in her room – a normal mom-like task, right?

Sure. Except that my daughter hasn’t actually worn matching socks in years.

Apparently it’s a thing – to wear mismatched socks, that is. So, why am I taking the time to match them up for her? It makes no sense, but I have been doing it since she was a baby, so I’ve continued to do it all these years without really giving much thought to it.

The same  thing can happen with event design.

After years of planning the same event from one year to to the next, we sometimes get in a rhythm and act without self-awareness. We repeat things from previous years and follow the ‘recipe for success’ that we have established without necessarily questioning if our goals and objectives have changed, or if our event attendees have the same needs as they once did.

How can we know if the event is a success if there is no stated goal to achieve or if there are no checks and balances that measure success and compare results from one year to the next?

3 Determining Factors of a Successful Event

  • Profit/loss reports – Did your event make money? How much more (or less) than previous years?
  • Event Flow & Operations – Did a speaker show up late? Did room flips run overtime? Did you run out of food? Were there line-ups at the gate? All of these small executional problems may cost money or create a shift in how attendees feel about your event.
  • Engagement? Did more people come this year than last? Less? Are people participating actively in Q&A’s? Did someone new join your organization because of attending the event last year? Are attendees tweeting about your event?

In order to truly measure event success you need to know if you’ve met your goals or not AND if you met the expectations of your attendees (expectations that most certainly change from one event to the next). These are things that your event team should definitely be covering off in the post-event debrief meeting and asking attendees to weigh in on.

Furthermore, you cannot assume that just because everything you did last year to make your event a success is the same stuff you need to do this time around. Things change – Just like they did with the sock situation in my household.

Once upon a time, me taking care of the laundry in a neat and orderly fashion by matching and folding socks was a good thing. I was meeting my goal of keeping things tidy and I thought I was helping my daughter get dressed quicker in the morning. Turns out that what I was really doing was not paying attention to the fact that my daughter’s needs (as they relate to clean socks) had changed. She was actually undoing what I did because she didn’t want to wear matching socks (making my efforts completely inutile). My version of success (matched, clean and folded socks) was her version of failure. I was operating on autopilot and not paying attention.

Moral of the story …

At home, I’m not folding socks anymore and I have an extra 10 minutes in my day.

At work, I’m paying way more attention to what really defines event success!


PS – I’m sharing more on measuring event success in my eBook. Download it here. For tips on folding socks, I highly recommend this book by Marie Kondo – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up!