Whenever you attend a company sponsored seminar or a workshop, the purpose of a follow-up evaluation is to not only advise your employers whether it was a good value for the time and money that was spent, but also to help the presenters understand what was a hit, what was a miss and how future seminars can be modified to best meet the career needs of their target demographic.
Step One: Jot Down Your Impressions
Jot down your impressions of the seminar and the presenter as soon after the event as possible and while everything is still fresh in your mind. Your observations will constitute a working framework from which to then develop your formal evaluation.
Step Two: Identify What Resonated With You
Identify the elements of the seminar that resonated the most positively with you. For example, maybe the hypothetical role-playing exercises helped to reinforce the material in a way that would have been tedious to read in a book or a series of case studies. Perhaps you liked the way you and your peers were split into smaller groups to analyze a real-life problem. Make note, as well, of the instructor's rapport with seminar attendees and how engaged she made you feel from start to finish.
Step Three: Note What Didn't Meet Your Expectations
Make notes on the elements of the seminar that fell below your expectations. For instance, perhaps the seminar presenter spent too much in the session spinning personal anecdotes that, while wickedly entertaining and funny, cut into the amount of time left over for learning research techniques or a new software program's capabilities for making your job easier. Maybe you would like to have had ongoing measurement tools throughout the seminar, such as pop quizzes to gauge your progress and grasp of the material.
Step Four: Create Your Wish List
Create a list of things you might have done differently if you were in charge of the planning. This could be anything from having a shorter/longer program or holding it in a different venue to restructuring the presentation itself to a more interactive platform or one with a panel of expert presenters instead of a single instructor.
Step Five: Create Your Document Template
Open a new document in your preferred program such as Word or Google docs, select a 12-point font in Times New Roman, Courier or a similar professional typeface, and set your margins for an inch on each side. If you're using corporate letterhead, drop down at least an inch below the company name and address to start your entries at the left margin. Identify yourself by your full name, your title and your division or regional office. Identify the full title of the seminar you attended, the date, time and location of the program, and the name of the seminar instructor.
Step Six: Summarize the Seminar's Objective
Describe in a few sentences the core objective of the class. This can either be your own understanding of what was being offered or a direct quote from the seminar announcement or hand-out package/syllabus. Explain in a brief paragraph the presenter's approach to the subject through supplemental tools and materials, such as lectures, multimedia presentations, workbooks, skits and case studies.
Step Seven: Evaluate the Course Content
Create a subheading with the title "Course Content" in caps and address the quality, thoroughness and timeliness of the material you were given. This can either be done entirely in a narrative format or set up as a small matrix in which you assign a numeric ranking of 1 to 10 or a grade of "poor," "fair," "good," or "outstanding." For low numeric scores or grades of poor and understanding, be sure to provide an explanation or examples. For instance, you might write "the case studies were all from the 1980s and did not apply to 21st century workplace dynamics."
Be objective in terms of whether the seminar delivered what it promised to deliver. In other words, don't complain about it ad nauseum just because it was rainy that day or you couldn't find a parking place. Take into consideration in your write-up whether the presenter provided information and insights that would not be readily available elsewhere.
Step Eight: Evaluate the Instructor
Make a subheading titled "Instructor Expertise." Just as you did in the previous step, evaluate the presenter's knowledge and level of experience, organization of seminar materials, communication skills and interaction with seminar attendees. Provide solid examples of what the seminar presenter did well, for example "encouraged us to ask questions," and what he needs to work on to be more effective, such as "giving us hand-out materials and then reading them to us out loud was time that could be better spent on a more interactive context." Assess whether the presenter had the credentials and the experience to make their material and its context credible.
Step Nine: Make Any Recommendations
Create a subheading called "Recommendations." This is where you'll identify your own ideas for improving the class. Seminar presenters appreciate objective feedback in this section so that they can stay viable and competitive. If the seminar was one that had lots of takeaway value for you, you can use this section to list future workshops you'd like to see offered by the same instructor or the same training entity.
- Be objective in terms of whether the seminar delivered what it promised to deliver. In other words, don't complain about it ad nauseum just because it was rainy that day or you couldn't find a parking place.
- Take into consideration in your write-up whether the presenter provided information and insights that would not be readily available elsewhere.
- Assess whether the presenter had the credentials and the experience to make their material and its context credible.
- Not everyone who attends a seminar has the same reasons for being there that you do. For instance, some may be there to learn new skills to advance in their careers, others are there for the professional networking, and others just see it as a chance to get out of work that day. Regardless of your observations or interpretations of your peers' rationale for attendance, a good seminar report should be based entirely on what you personally got out of it and with the understanding that it will be viewed by the presenter in the context of a collective--not singular--evaluation of its merits.
Ghostwriter and film consultant Christina Hamlett has written professionally since 1970. Her credits include many books, plays, optioned features, articles and interviews. Publishers include HarperCollins, Michael Wiese Productions, "PLAYS," "Writer's Digest" and "The Writer." She holds a B.A. in communications (emphasis on audience analysis and message design) from California State University, Sacramento. She also travels extensively and is a gourmet chef.