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A question for my association colleagues

My question: Why do associations frequently “hide” audience feedback from speakers?

When I work with my clients, a common discussion point is capturing speaker feedback in the database. Typically associations want to do this via an online survey (which makes sense). But quite often, someone on staff will say “But we want to be able to review the responses before the speakers see them, so we can take out all the nasty comments.” (Or words to that effect.)

As a frequent speaker myself, I’m always a bit befuddled by this. I like to get ALL the feedback (good and bad) from the audience feedback sheets. When I push back on my clients, usually the answer is something along the lines of “We don’t think it’s necessary for our speakers to hear the bad stuff,” or “If they are all negative comments, then we know not to use that speaker again.”

So tell me, association executives, if you don’t share ALL the feedback with your speakers, why not?

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Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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