If you are like me, you dread the "Please step into my office" or "We need to talk" start to a conversation. Immediately, visions of criticism and negative comments jump into your mind. We all think of feedback, even constructive feedback, as a terrible thing and if we don't like it, how could our speakers, sponsors and exhibitors? 

But what if we are wrong? That feedback is exactly what strong leaders crave and want – that it makes them a great leader in so many ways and builds a better, more engaging organization. 

Harvard Business Review recently completed two studies and found the following: 

  • In a survey of 51,900 executives, those who asked for feedback on a continuous basis, were ranked 86% in overall leadership effectiveness by their bosses, colleagues and subordinates. It appears that the best leaders ask more people, more often for comments and are not fearful of the results. 

    On the other hand, those leaders who rarely or never ask for feedback were ranked 15% in overall leadership effectiveness. 

  • In a survey of 22,700 leaders, those who gave honest feedback to subordinates, even if it was difficult, ranked 77% in employee engagement. 

    Those who skirted or avoided issues ranked 25% in employee engagement and their subordinates often times disliked their jobs and frequently thought about quitting. 

How can meeting professionals use this data? Here are two key takeaways

  1. Poll everyone at every meeting. 

    Wireless audience response systems are a great way to easily and anonymously gather feedback about your speakers, meeting and trade show. The method is simple and only takes attendees a few moments to respond. In addition, you can store the data and review it at a later date. 

    If your rent iPads, encourage attendees to send you an email or use social channels to share what is on their mind. Monitor all channels and respond as quickly as possible. 

    If an attendee, speaker or exhibitor gives you feedback, log it within a central location such as Google Drive. Don't ask them to send you an email or text. The burden is on you to respond to their needs.

  2. Be honest…even if it hurts.

    If a presenter bombed or exhibitor was over the top, it is best that you give them the direct feedback presented to you by your attendees. Don't sugarcoat the information; give it to them straight. This is the only way they will learn and improve. Not asking them back to your conference, is not the right solution. It just allows them the opportunity to continue to be terrible at someone else's conference. 

    In addition, if attendees take the time to give you improvements and you can't make them because of budgetary or time restrictions this year, be honest and tell them when you will address their concerns. 

In summary, constantly monitoring your attendees through Audience Response System rentals and being direct with your stakeholders is the way to build trust and engagement at your conferences. 

SmartSource Rentals, your total technology solutions provider, has a breadth and depth of feedback engagement tools including wireless Audience Response systems, iPads and much more. Give them a call today at 800.888.8686 to get started!