G Remember that stakeholder list you assembled previously? If done properly, it identified what the various stakeholders hoped to gain from their involvement. And as we said, these may vary from group to group.
It is not necessary (or practical) to measure the program’s success against all of these, but it is important to obtain an idea of whether goals were met among some of them. This information becomes vital if the program is slated to happen on a regular basis. (Again, trade shows were some of the first to do this, as the information they gain becomes the “prospectus” for next year’s show, used to recruit or re-contract exhibitors. In fact, there are firms that do nothing but audit shows, to assure the information they are reporting is accurate and complete.)
Even for onetime programs, the credibility you may maintain or lose from attendees, sponsors, vendors, show funders, and clients may hinge on the ability to demonstrate goals were met.
Return to your list of stakeholders. Which are the most important to please? Which ones do you want to provide feedback to (vendors are prime candidates here)? What were the objectives of each (this may be as simple as drawing the number of attendees hoped for, or as esoteric as whether their participation was remembered by other participants.)
Thinking about how to demonstrate the success or failure of the program – from their perspective – forms the foundation of how to measure the program. We usually think in terms of money – did we make money, did we stay within the budget, were there enough attendees? – may seem like an easy task, but what about the sponsor who invested $XX; was the benefit to her/him worth the cost? This is where ROI can turn into ROO (return on opportunity). Attendees, too, mentally measure ROO – not just how much did we spend to attend and was it worth it (a straight ROI measure), but was this a wise investment of our time when so many other events are vying for our attention?
Clearly, one could get into a trap of trying to measure everything and spend incredible amounts of time gathering data. So our first task is to determine what we want or need to measure. Some are quantitative (usually the easier to gather), some are qualitative. What do we need? And how do we best assemble such data?
Having a plan prior to the program allows us to focus on data collection during and after the event. (And we may be TOLD that certain data points are highly desired.) Assuming you have not been given such explicit directives, what do you choose to use to determine the program’s success? How will you measure and present it?
That’s this assignment. Determine who the important parties are to demonstrate success, and identify ways it may be shown. (Hint, some of this may be gathered in the moments or days after the event.)

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