In this 4-part blog series on booking keynote speakers, we’ve covered a lot of ground. We started with determining how to identify the right speaker for your event, followed by giving advice on how to negotiate your booking request so that your ideal speaker is excited for your upcoming event.

In our last post, we focused on all of the moving parts that go into preparing your speaker for success, including ensuring they get to your event on time and ready to delight and educate your audience.

In this fourth and final post on booking keynote speakers, I’ll cover what to do after the event concludes. 

Congratulations on your successful event!

You’ve just created and completed a highly successful event with your keynote speaker. Did every single detail fall into place as expected? If not, don’t worry! That’s totally normal. The most important first step at this part in the process is to reflect.  Even a week or two after the event, some of those feelings, memories, and sentiments can begin to fade as focus shifts to other priorities.

If you’re into journaling, this is a great time to jot down your thoughts and impressions immediately following the event. In marketing, we often call this a post-campaign summary. One way I like to perform this task is by making two lists – what worked and what didn’t. This helps me know what to repeat next time and what to change.

Measuring your event’s success

Whether you poll your audience during your event, immediately after the session, or decide to send out a follow-up request for feedback, no event can truly be concluded until this step is completed. You might be wondering why.

Capturing the sentiment of your attendees about your keynote speaker’s session as soon after the event as possible is imperative to measuring the success of your event. Additionally, what one person perceives will likely differ from that of the person who sat next to them, and those may likely differ from your impressions as the event organizer. 

Attendee sentiment and feedback can be captured in many different ways:

  • Questions from the audience (quality and quantity) during the session;
  • Anecdotal buzz and chatter in the room and hallway (or in the chat window) during and after the session ends; 
  • Social media engagement during the session about the speaker, if encouraged; and/or
  • Post-session polling and surveys.

In our 2023 Speaking Industry Benchmark Report, event organizers said that their top three goals for event speakers are: audience engagement (69.6%), education (51.6%), and attendance (41.0%). Let’s review how to ideally measure for each of these goals.

  1. Evaluating audience engagement – This can be pretty apparent during an event itself. Is the audience responding to the speaker through questions, laughs, or fixed focus on them while they present? Do people largely stay through the entire session (in person or virtually) or do a notable number leave during the middle of the presentation?

    You can also capture this engagement by asking some of the following questions in your post-event surveys:
    1. Did the speaker keep your attention during the presentation?
    2. Did you take action after the presentation to research the speaker online (Google, social media, etc.)?
    3. Did you share your feedback about the session with your colleagues?
    4. Is this a speaker you would like to see speak again sometime in the future?
    5. What are three words to describe the speaker?
  2. Measuring for education – Here’s where you can determine whether your speaker selection struck the right balance. Whether a speaker is brought in to address improving  mental health on a college campus, or to provide a futuristic view by sharing predictions for an industry association, the effective sharing of information is largely the goal of these events. Asking what attendees took away from the session is accomplished by asking a few questions like these.
    1. What is something you learned during this session that you did not already know?
    2. Did this session change your perspective on (topic)? Why or why not?
    3. Now that you’ve learned about (topic), what is one way you’ll take action to make our world a better place (or our industry more effective)?
  3. Evaluating attendance – The most straightforward measurement of the three top responses is attendance. Be sure to measure not just how many people attended your event as a whole (which can be impacted by your selection of speaker), but also, as mentioned above, how many people started and stayed in the speaker’s session. Some metrics to include here:
    1. Registration to attendance rate
    2. Percentage of event attendees in the speaker’s session
    3. Retention rate during the session itself

Another important characteristic of event attendance is determining if your attendees are the right and expected demographic audience for your event. For example, if your event session caters to the C-suite, what’s the ratio of C-suite attendees in this session versus this session last time? As you know, it’s always important to make sure you’re reaching the right audience for your event, but demonstrating you successfully captured this audience will be helpful when it comes time to secure your next speaker. 

Although this specific event is completed, the true measure of an event’s success is often in what happens after the event. When you take the time to measure your event’s success towards meeting your goals and have data to tell the story, you are following best practices for our industry. This then becomes the first step in planning your next successful event with your future keynote speaker