This is our second week of hearing from a 2012 Next Step Speaker Services client. As I told you last week, one of the things that I treasure about coaching speakers is that I am continually learning from my clients.
One week while I was working with Cheri Gregory, she began to tell me about how she often gives pre-event surveys to her audience. I was so captivated with her stories and results that I asked her to share with you. Today’s treat is a written explanation of how she implements the survey AND a moving video telling about how God used the survey for one event.
Please welcome my friend Cheri Gregory!
As a high school teacher, I get to know my “daily audience”–my students–before I try to tell them anything. The first few days of school are all about relationship-building, not content.
So I used to feel very uncomfortable arriving at a women’s event and immediately diving into my message. I didn’t know these ladies! They didn’t know me! How could I teach women I didn’t know?
The answer, thanks to technology, is that I can start getting to know my audience ahead of time via a pre-event online survey!
The first time I sent out an online survey prior to a retreat, I was just hoping to glean basic statistics about my audience: age range, how many were married/single, what age children they had. But as the survey results came in, I found the women sharing information far more powerful than percentages (although it was a great Friday night ice-breaker to share all sorts of “fun facts” they’d told me about themselves!)
I discovered what issues the women were (and weren’t!) struggling with, which allowed me to re-focus my messages on the areas of greatest need. Many women took the time to pour out their hearts in the open-ended “comment” sections, and I wove many of their authentic quotes into my talks. I did so anonymously, of course, but always gave credit with a segue like “As one of you here today said…” (And I can’t tell you how many women later made a bee-line to me, beaming from ear-to-ear as they exclaimed, “You used what I wrote!”)
I discovered one unexpected benefit of the pre-event survey when one woman told me, “When I received your survey, I clicked on the link out of duty; I’m a rule-follower. But as I read the questions, I got more and more excited about meeting you, because I could feel your heart for women.” It hadn’t occurred to me that not only do I get to know the attendees via the pre-event survey, but they start getting to know their speaker, as well!
A few FAQs:
How far in advance do you start the survey?
My preference is at least two weeks. When I’ve launched a week prior to a retreat, it feels rushed, for me and the attendees.
How do you send out the survey?
It depends on whether or not the retreat coordinator is comfortable giving me the e-mail addresses of the registrants. If she is, I create a unique mailing list and send the survey link in a one-time-only* e-mail. If not, then I give her the survey link and she sends it out to her group.
What about women who don’t have access to a computer?
I’ve offered paper copies but no retreat planner has ever taken me up on the offer. So I am aware that my survey samples are always incomplete, with a distinct technology access bias.
What percentage of the women respond?
As the results to the first survey poured in, I was stunned by how eager women were to respond to my survey! I’ve been thrilled to have a response rate of 60-90%, with 75% being a solid average.
What kinds of questions do you include in the survey?
I try to make most questions answerable via a mouse click: rating, multiple choice, yes/no, etc. But for every question, I do include a “comment” option with the maximum words allowed. The comments I do receive are invaluable.
My closing question is always the same: “How can I pray for you in the days leading up to the retreat?” I spend far more praying over the specific requests than analyzing the other data. This is when my self-centered “I hope they like me” anxiety falls away and my heart breaks open to the needs of the women God’s called me to serve.
Could I see a sample survey?
If you’d like to see the kinds of comments and prayer requests I’ve gotten, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be glad to send you a compilation of text-based responses.
(* I do not add any of the e-mail addresses to any mailing list, as this would be a serious breach of trust and a violation of anti-spam laws. I only add those who sign up for and intentionally “opt-in” to my mailing list.)
Cheri Gregory is a 40-something Christian speaker & writer; high school English teacher; Certified Personality Trainer; wife of a teacher/pastor/musician; mother of two teens; servant to three psycho cats & one ADHD Keeshond. In her copious spare time, she loves to shop, horseback ride, and scrapbook! Please visit Cheri’s blog by clicking here.