Organizer Best Practices: Make the most of your feedback!

As community builders and leaders one of the most important things we can do is put feedback to work for us. But since doing nothing is often easier in the moment for various reasons than doing anything is, we often receive feedback and never act on it or put it off until it’s no longer timely. To put receiving, giving, and using feedback to its best use here are some handy suggestions this month on making the most of your feedback.

Where does feedback come from?

Feedback can come from so many sources that sometimes we don’t realize we’re receiving it, let alone putting it to good use. Feedback  can be active or passive and is defined most simply as the return of information. Feedback is data. Sometimes it’s hard to quantify that data, but if we find a way, we can put it to great use! So let’s talk about some of the most commonly available forms of feedback for organizers in our community.

Indirect Feedback

Attendance – Attendance, or lack thereof, of a meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area. event is feedback in and of itself.

Participation  – Pay attention to how the audience or guests interact with presenters or projects. Are they engaged and enthusiastic?

Discussion boards – What are people asking about on the meetup group discussion boards? If there are topics you’re not covering at your event, consider including  them in the future.

Conversation  Whether conversations take place in person or on social media, listening to what attendees and participants have to say is a valuable exercise.  Organizers can put that knowledge to use by making adjustments, additions, refinements or even repeating topics.

Direct Feedback

RSVPs/ Ticket Sales –  Even though we can expect a certain amount of attrition with any event (lower for formal or paid events, higher for more casual and free events) whether or not people are RSVPing for certain topics or at certain days and times or purchasing tickets can tell you a lot.

Survey results – For Meetups in the chapter program we send out a yearly survey. Individual results for each meetup group are sent to the organizing team through meetup.com and general results can be found here: https://make.wordpress.org/community/2019/04/18/2018-meetup-survey/ We’re working to significantly improve this survey moving forward in case you wanted to share some feedback with us about that (hint hint.)

For WordCamps there is a standard survey available for all attendees to answer after WordCampWordCamp A WordCamp is a conference where the WordPress community come together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. https://central.wordcamp.org/about/. is completed. They’re collected by the WordCamp CentralWordCamp Central Website for all WordCamp activities globally. https://central.wordcamp.org includes a list of upcoming and past camp with links to each. account and shared to the organizing team. Organizers can  also create their own custom attendee survey if they want to get more in-depth information or ask about a specific feature of the event.

Meetup automated debrief questions – After every Meetup.com meetup an automated debrief is sent to those who registered to attend. It’s not customizable, but it’s still great information to have. Encourage your attendees to fill it out, and review the results regularly!

How to get better feedback

Create a safe space for feedback –  Many folks feel anxious about sharing and receiving feedback and don’t want to be seen as critical or complaining. This often leads to organizers and leaders hearing from a vocal few who might not represent the majority. Make it clear that feedback is welcome and important for the growth of your community, and that you are committed to improving events in response to community feedback. Provide multiple ways for your community to provide feedback such as in person, a voice call, email, or slackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/.. Not everyone is comfortable with the same communication style, and you’ll get the best information if you collect feedback from people in the way they’re most comfortable.

Ask specific questions – If you want to know something specific, just come out and ask. Unless your community includes some mind-readers, people won’t know that you’re open to feedback unless you tell them.

Ask what you’re not asking – Leave room for attendees to fill in the blank. Specifically, call out that you want diverse ideas and opinions, and you’d like to know what the leadership team isn’t thinking to ask.

Make it actionable – Don’t ask for feedback just for the sake of having it. Example: If you’re asking people if they have a dietary preference or restriction but you’re meeting in an office and no food will be provided, there’s no reason to collect the information. But if you have a speaker who is an expert in three different topics and you want to know if your community would benefit more from learning about Contribution, SEO, or Content Management — then ask the community what they’d like to hear about.

Make it shareable – Either collect or collate feedback in a way that makes it shareable with the entire leadership of your group, or whenever possible, your entire community.

Recruitment – New incoming community members, speakers, sponsors, and leaders will always bring with them fresh ideas and a new perspective to share.

What to do with feedback once you have it

Share what you’ve learned – With the exception of private information and personally identifying information, it’s important to share what we’ve learned.

Don’t make change for the sake of change – If everything is working, and that’s the feedback you’re getting, don’t change things on a whim. If you want to test out new formats, content, or dates, then try to offer them as an alternative and then collect feedback on the experiments.

Recruit – Some WordPress community organizers like to say, “You’ve got an idea? You’ve got a job!” because feedback and suggestions can so often be used as a recruitment tool. The people who care enough to suggest a new topic or event series for the meetup, or a new registration system or caterer for WordCamp, are much more likely to care enough to get more involved in the community. If people come to you with a good idea that you think will work, invite them to take another step along the path to leadership by taking responsibility for making that good idea become a reality. If someone has an idea that you think won’t work, then you can still explain the reasons you do things the way you do, and invite them to help come up with another way to solve the problem they’ve identified! Often people don’t realize how easy it can be to get more involved in the local community.  

Please leave feedback on this article about feedback

How do you collect and respond to feedback in your local WordPress community? Have you ever given feedback and been surprised by the results? Do you have some other suggestions for ways to improve the quality of feedback, or respond to it? Leave a comment on this post with your thoughts!

#feedback, #organizer-best-practices