For your next event or endeavor to be the most effective and successful one of the keys is to debrief the last event. Debriefing is taking a close, objective observation of an event or endeavor as soon as possible following the event. This cannot normally be accomplished in a one person setting.
The best way to debrief an event is to have a group meeting with as many people as possible who were involved in the event within one week of the event closing. The quicker the debrief session can happen the more people can remember with fresh minds and recollection.
A debrief session should not only consist of “atta boy” moments – congratulating each other on a good job. Though expressions of gratitude should be part of the meeting. The main purpose of conducting debrief sessions is to learn from and gain a perspective on how to improve your next event or similar activity.
The leader should prepare for this debrief session with an open mind and a willingness to lead everyone to learn and improve the ministry efforts for the entire organization. The best way for the leader to do this is to prepare a series of good thought-provoking questions pertaining to the execution and operations during the event. In other words, how well was the actual deployment of the plans for the event? You would not want to use that particular wording, rather you will need to devise questions which bring you to a right conclusion – not necessarily the desired “we did good” answers.
Let’s say your church or organization planned for the first time to have a booth in the county harvest festival. Your 10’x10’ tent covered booth will be one in a line of 65 booths with all sorts of organizations and vendors. Begin the Debrief meeting with words of gratefulness and thanks. Then moving to your discussion time you might begin with a couple of standard questions.
For the most part you will want to stay from closed ended questions. Closed ended questions require little thought and have a simple one word or one statement answer. Once one person answers the question, everyone’s thinking shuts down. A sample closed ended question is “What day of the week is today?” As soon as someone answers, the thought process of everyone shuts down. Avoid using questions that require a “yes” or “no” answer.
Closed ended questions never introduce a discussion forum. Without discussion you will not determine what all these other sets of eyes saw in your event. Without this discussion you will never develop an accurate plan to improve future events.
Now, moving back to the harvest festival debrief. The following are samples of the questions you could propose:
- How effective was our presentation at the festival letting people know who we are and why we exist?
- How did we affect people’s lives? (Ask for examples)
- What did we do to set ourselves apart from all the other booths at the festival?
- What happened at our booth that people remember us today and will remember us one month, six months from now?
- What did we do well to convey our mission?
- What could we improve upon?
One pastor came up with a great question for his debrief session of his church’s role in a similar community festival. The question he posed to himself first, then to his debrief team, “What did we do that an atheist have set up next to us could not have done?” This was a great and almost perfect question for his church. He was in essence asking, “Did we share the gospel? Did we do anything to show who we are in Christ Jesus?” Of course he knew the answer. The answer was they had done nothing that any other group or organization could not have done. This was an eye-opening revelation to the pastor and church that while they were doing something they considered good, it was not advancing their mission or their cause.
Begin planning your next event(s) by debriefing your last event. A solid and objective discussion about the deployment of your resources will give you an answer that will improve your future and help you make decisions toward wiser, more effective outreach for your ministry or cause.