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Creating and Using Evaluation Forms

Evaluation forms can be great sources of feedback as well as effective marketing tools. The best type of evaluation forms are ones you make yourself. You can tailor the questions to fit your presentation and provide spaces for names and e-mails that you can use for your marketing efforts.

Creating an Effective Evaluation Form

An ideal evaluation form should be short, encourage honest feedback, and provide room for written comments. Give the responders the option of either keeping their comments anonymous or providing their name and contact information. The form should be limited to one side of letter-sized paper at most. A half sheet would be better.

The “on a scale of 1 to 5” type of questions are popular on evaluation forms because they enable responders to provide useful feedback quickly. When writing this type of survey, make sure that the scale is clearly labeled and the questions fit the responses. You can use numbers with the highest number as best and the lowest as worse, or you can label each of your possible responses. Provide enough responses so that you can get a clear picture of how the audience rates your presentation, but not so many that responders have to stop and ponder which box to check. A range of five options is usually sufficient.

Here is an example of a numbered scale:

On a scale from 1 to 5, 5 being best, rate my presentation on the following:
  Poor   Average   Excellent
  1 2 3 4 5
Answering your questions about the subject [  ] [  ] [  ] [  ] [  ]
Explaining concepts that are new to you [  ] [  ] [  ] [  ] [  ]

Here is an example of labeled responses:

Check one of the boxes below that best matches your feelings about the following areas:
Neither agree nor disagree Disagree
I learned new information that will help me in my career. [  ] [  ] [  ] [  ] [  ]
The speaker was entertaining and informative. [  ] [  ] [  ] [  ] [  ]

And yes, you should include “poor”, “worse”, or “disagree completely” as possible responses. You want to encourage honest feedback and not sugar coat the possible range of responses. The check boxes for negative responses also encourage people to score you higher if they are satisfied with your presentation.

For written comments, provide questions that are open-ended, but focused so that the audience doesn’t feel obligated to write an 500-word essay. Here are some examples:

What are the three most important things you learned today?

What was your favorite part of the presentation?

Is there anything you would have liked to have seen covered?

Always provide a space for the audience to provide additional comments that are not covered in the other questions.

Using Evaluation Forms for Marketing

The most important part of the form from a marketing standpoint is the place where responders can provide their name and contact information. But providing this information must be optional. Responders want to be able to respond anonymously. One option is to put spaces for the name and contact information on a tear-off portion of the evaluation form or on a separate sheet of paper. This enables people to provide their name and contact information and still respond anonymously.

If responders do provide their name and contact information, you should still ask for their permission to send them material. You can provide check boxes like the following:

[ ] Please put me on your mailing list of upcoming seminars.

[ ] I would like to subscribe to your free newsletter.

[ ] You may use my comments in your marketing materials.

The following link opens a Microsoft Word XP document you can use as a template for an evaluation form. More info

What If Evaluation Forms Are Provided?

If you speak at conferences, you may be required to use the evaluation form they provide you. Conference coordinators use audience feedback to select speakers for upcoming events. They will also send you copies or a summary of the responses.

There are some ways you can get contact information and additional feedback from the audience if you use a conference’s evaluation form. Ask the conference coordinator for permission first before you use any of these methods so that you don’t break the rules.

  • Offer a freebie, like a subscription to your newsletter or an eBook. Ask the audience members to give you their business cards and write on the back one thing they learned from your presentation.
  • Create a “Commitment Form” where the audience members write down an action item they plan to implement based on the lessons they learned in your presentation. You would then follow up in three to six months with a form letter asking how they’re progressing on their efforts (as well as offer services that fit their goal).

How to Use the Feedback from Evaluation Forms

Evaluation forms are gold mines of information that will enrich your speaking skills. Here are some tips that will help you use feedback to improve your future presentations:

  • Do the math. Count up how many of each response you receive. Did you mostly get fives or threes? Calculate the average score for each questions. This will help you determine how the audience ranked you overall.
  • Look for trends in the written responses. What questions did your listeners ask the most? What things did they like about the presentation? What did they dislike? This will help you focus on where you can improve your presentation.
  • Reflect on your presentation. Use the responses to help you remember how your presentation went and where you might have had difficulties. If the audience said they couldn’t hear you clearly, was there a problem with the audio equipment? Did you speak clearly?
  • Follow up. Contact audience members if you need clarification or more detail about their comments. This is also an opportunity to build good relations with your customers.
  • Use the feedback to improve your evaluation forms. Are you not getting useful responses? Fine tune your questions and the scale of responses. Are people skipping the written responses? Make your questions clearer and more focused. Are people not filling out the form at all? Shorten it and make the questions simpler.
  • Always be grateful for feedback, positive or negative. Don’t take it personally and don’t get defensive. Feedback is a tool you can use to improve.

Evaluation forms are a powerful tool that will help you improve your skills and business as a speaker. Be sure that you have feedback forms ready for your next presentation.