Ten Tips to Improve Team Debrief

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Just When You Thought it Was Over—It’s Time to Debrief!

We made it through a busy event season, but the work isn’t over yet. When Paige joined the KE Team, bringing her experience as a trained meeting facilitator, she suggested creating a structured event debrief meeting we could lead for our clients. We now offer this structure to uncover opportunities to improve, as well as provide lots of space for clients, their teams, boards, and committees to praise one another for a job well done.

After year’s of seeing it action, we could not imagine doing it any other way!

Here are some tips for leading a successful debrief meeting:

  1. Gather the right people together. Invite staff, vendors, committee members, ALL decision makers and stakeholders to share their perspectives.

  2. Tell everyone what will be done with the feedback. We’ve all been to meetings where the results went nowhere. Tell them how this will be different and follow through.

  3. Invite praise. Ask participants to share what they thought went well. If you have glass-half-empty types in the room, prompt them by inviting them to say one sentence that praises someone else present or event themselves.

  4. Focus on the positive. Debriefs are not an invitation to moan about one another, the badly behaved attendee, or the donor that didn’t come through. They are an opportunity to learn from one another and improve for next time. Ask participants to focus on what they would like to change or do differently.

  5. Capture everything. Listen and ask questions that clarify the point someone makes. Write everything down. Everything. Even if you don’t agree with it and even if there isn’t consensus about it.

  6. Make it fun and interactive. Our debrief exercises take 1-2 hours, but people leave energized and enthused. Attendees spend at least 25% of the debrief on their feet, moving around the room—you can find a way to make it engaging, too.

  7. Get everyone talking, not just the squeaky wheels. Does the conference director or boss railroad the conversation? Are they so focused on next year they can’t hear feedback about what just happened? We have simple exercises that give everyone a chance to talk without shutting down those who naturally dominate.

  8. Create space for introverts. (This goes hand in hand with Tip #7.) Extraverts process externally, but we find that introverts have some of the most valuable ideas. Our debrief includes exercises where you write your input before sharing it and stretches of time to think without talking. So many more ideas are shared this way!

  9. Build your next event plan and timeline from the results! Tip #2 was about what will be done with the feedback. Take the notes you capture (Tip #5) and write them up and share the notes with everyone present. Use the notes on improvements to build out next year’s event plan.

  10. Have an independent party lead the discussion. That’s where we come in. If Maggie led the project, Paige will lead the debrief, and vice versa. It frees up one of us to share her insights. Most importantly, it’s best not to have “the boss” lead. (See Tip #7 if you’re unsure why.)

Our clients really value the time they get with us to reflect and reengage after an event is over. You can bring these techniques to your next event, too. Let us know if you have tips you’d like to share or ask us questions about any of the tips we shared.


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Maggie Kennedy

Maggie Kennedy is the co-owner of Kennedy Events is a large-scale event management company based in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Our team creates stress-free conferences and events with a positive impact, which allow our clients to resonate with their audience. Kennedy Events specializes in producing flawless product launches, award ceremonies, fundraisers and multi-day conferences while keeping our eye on retention and engagement goals.

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About Kennedy Events

Kennedy Events began in 2000 with one goal in mind—to produce corporate events with just as much strategy as style. Since then, Paige, Maggie, and their team have built one of the most sought after corporate event companies in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.


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