Evaluation of LIFT07 – can we measure the long term impact of conferences?
I’ve just finished an interesting evaluation study on LIFT07, an international conference on emerging technology and communications that was held in Geneva during February 2007 – you can view the complete evaluation report here (pdf -339 kb). Our main evaluation tool was a survey of the conference attendees (48% of participants completed the survey).
Apart from providing useful feedback for the conference organisers that will assist them in improving future conferences, the study set out to find out what was the longer term impact of the first LIFT conference (held in February 2006). By surveying attendees that participated in both the 2006 and 2007 conferences we were able to “track” some key points of changes in attitudes and behaviours and to what extent they could be attributed to the LIFT conference. My findings are summarised in this diagram (pdf).
What I found very interesting is that one year after the conference, 28% of attendees (of a 50 person sample) said they started new activities partly due to LIFT06, such as forming a partnership, creating a blog or launching a new partnership. Further, 90% of attendees said that the conference influenced them in finding and exchanging information.
Of course, we have to recognise the limitations of the study, notably that it is self reported (and not backed-up by independent confirmation) and it is a relatively small sample (i.e. 17.5% – 50 people out of 285 participants). Nevertheless, we can make certain conclusions that the conference did have longer term impact in quite precise areas with some participants; establishing new contacts, inspiring new ideas and ways to find and exchange information.
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