Why use this guide?

Every conversation you have with your attendees is an informal way of collecting feedback. It doesn’t have to be structured. Make the most of your candid conversations and interactions with the help of this guide.

What is included in this guide?

This guide includes four sections:

  • What to ask
  • When to casually talk to your attendees
  • How to approach people
  • Recording feedback and making meaning.

What to ask

You may not have long to ask your questions and get feedback. When working out the most important questions to ask, it can help to imagine a scenario: You’re in a lift with an attendee and you only have 1 minute! What are the three questions you ask?

Check out the asking the right questions guide and the survey questionnaire template for question inspiration and tips on asking good questions The asking the right questions guide will also help you to understand the difference between open and closed questions and how to ask non-leading and balanced questions.

When to casually talk to your attendees

Think about when the best time is to approach people. This will change depending on the type of questions you’re asking.

Consider asking people on entry if you want to know the following things:

  • Where have you come from and/or what is your postcode?
  • What is your reason for visiting?
  • Who are you visiting with?

Consider asking people on their way out if you want to know the following things:

  • Tell me about your experience today?
  • What was the best part?
  • How can we improve?
  • Did you visit [insert a specific gallery space, the gift shop, your café, etc]? Why/why not?

Avoid approaching people during their experience. This is for a couple of reasons. You don’t want to interrupt their experience or, even, ruin it! People are also less likely to want to answer some questions during their experience. You need to make sure their experience has finished, before you ask questions such as, ‘What was the best part?’.

If there is more than one exit or show times, think about how you’ll make sure you get an even cross section, so you hear from different types of people.

As this feedback is informal, it’s not as important that you collect feedback from a representative group of people. Keep in mind that this is a key limitation of casual feedback – you don’t know who else or how many others feel the same way!

How to approach people

You’ll need to design a way of approaching people that suits you. This will also depend on the questions you’re asking.

If you have a box office, ticket office, information desk or gift shop, your approach should be to let people approach you. You or your staff working at these desks can ask your questions as part of their general duties, at the time of entry or point of sale.

If you don’t have a designated desk, or you want to ask your questions at the end of the attendees experience, you’ll need to approach people. Consider placing a staff member at a key point in their path of travel, so you can easily and informally intercept or approach people on their way out. This approach could also apply to artists, tour coordinators or organisations who are visiting a venue. Make sure you have talked about this and agreed with the venue before.

Check out the conducting on-site interviews guide for more information and tips about intercepting people. Keep in mind that you’re talking to your attendees in a casual way, so for this project you won’t need to do as much planning compared to the conduct on-site interviews guide.

Recording feedback and making meaning

The most important part of your interactions and candid conversations with your attendees is to capture it! If you don’t document what you hear and key information that helps to give you context, then it’s going to be hard to make meaning of your feedback.

One negative comment about your bathrooms or your website might be a one off, but if you get 10 or 50 there’s an issue you need to action or, at the very least, find out more information about. Check out the create an audience research feedback loop tool for a step-by-step of how to collect, reflect and action casual feedback. This tool will also help you to understand the limitations of casual feedback and the steps required to take your feedback to the next level. The conducting on-site interviews guide will help with this, too.