Event Debrief Checklist: 7 Key Questions to Ask Your Team

February 7, 2020 Jessica Stewart

Sports Psychologist, Jim Taylor, says that athletes who want to improve performance should train their minds just like they do their bodies. A key aspect of this is to learn to look at their performance and take ownership for success and failure. These are lessons for any individual or team wanting to improve performance in or outside of sports.

After the event, it's important to have a debrief meeting with your team. Read on to learn what's in an event debrief checklist.

Event Debrief Checklist

Having a debrief meeting checklist helps with maintaining objectivity. An event can be an intense experience for all involved. The result is a potentially emotionally charged debrief meeting.

When emotions are running high, they can distort perceptions. Positives can seem epic. Negatives seem more tragic.

Best to maintain some detachment by formalizing the debrief meeting and follow a structured, methodical approach. Use a checklist to achieve this.

The Debrief Meeting

Get the right people at the meeting. If it's a small team, that could mean everybody. If it's a large team, then make sure that all perspectives will be represented.

The importance of a debrief to ensure continuous improvement means attending the debrief has to be nonnegotiable for everybody that is invited.

Having the right facilitator is also key. This is a difficult job requiring skills in leadership, listening and time management. A non-contentious person with a track record of even-handedness is best.

Establish an agenda for the meeting. You can base the agenda on these key questions. Capture a record of the meeting with particular attention on improvement actions for the next event.

1. What Were the Objectives of the Event?

It's surprising how vague people can be about what the objectives are for an event. Making the first question about this brings everybody back to first principles. What were we trying to achieve?

If this is the first question at every debrief, people will soon understand that being objective orientated throughout the event is important.

This also stops people from discussing irrelevant personal agendas. Just because you hated the catering doesn't mean the event was a failure. It all depends on what the objectives were.

2. Did We Achieve the Objectives?

Once the objectives are clearly understood, have a frank discussion about to what extent they were achieved. If there were different objectives for different stakeholders, review the performance for each set of objectives. Try to quantify the performance in terms of quantity, quality, cost and time.

3. What Went Well?

Ask for honest feedback from all perspectives on what went well. Accenting the positive makes it easier to raise more difficult issues later. Allow people to enjoy those feel-good comments.

4. What Could Have Gone Better?

You could ask what went wrong. Better to focus everybody on the need to continuously improve and ask what could have gone better.

Don't bury everybody in a huge list of issues. Try to identify the main areas for improvement and focus on the priorities.

5. How Did We Do Against Budget?

The commercial aspect of the event is important. Share a review of the financial aspects including profit, revenue, and cash flow.

6. What Should We Stop, Start or Change Next Time?

Opportunities to improve will always exist. Even the most amazing event can be improved on. It's important to be action-orientated so agree with everybody what you will do with the conclusions from the review.

What should you stop doing? What should you start doing? What, if anything, will you change?

7. How Did Our People Do?

Spend a little time about the team. This is a chance to agree on any training and development needs. It's also an opportunity to celebrate success. 

Your Debrief

The debrief should be owned by the team. It's for and about the team. Together, you can improve performance using the event debrief checklist.

Develop your event planning at the 2019 Event Planning Expo.

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