Service Skill: Event Debriefs

Event Debriefs: What Are They?

Event debriefs are relatively what they sound like.  The type I’m talking about here is the private post-event reflection for the host (sharing with co-hosts and whatnot can come later).  

An “event” is what you make it out to be, and you should set your own standards for what constitutes an “event” that warrants a debrief.  Does one person coming over count?  What about four?  A dozen?  Does it depend which ones?  Is it more about the difference between an impromptu get-together and a thoroughly planned, themed occasion?

Personally I mostly debrief (and host) for small events for between five and twelve people, so my advice here is going to be influenced by that.

The idea of a structured reflection, though, I think scales up nicely.

The How-To 

Give yourself some breathing room after the event to process, but not so much details blur.  Say, for an evening event, perhaps do it the next morning.

Gather, for your reference in doing the debrief (and to keep with it for future reference), any feedback from attendees, any reference material or planning notes you used, anything else relevant you jotted down before, during, or after.

Start by recording the basics: who came, when it was (day, time), where it was, the occasion, purpose, or theme, what activities were done, what food and drink was served, and what decor or practical setup was used.

From there, you might want to start with a brain dump.  Write down all of the ideas, questions, thoughts that come to mind about the event.  If you’re really pulling a blank, you might want to go straight to a list of questions.

Which questions you use will be unique to you.  You might have a list of questions you answer like a worksheet, or a list for general inspiration.  

Some ideas include: 

What worked great?  How can you replicate it?  What didn’t work?  How can you fix it?  What problems did you run into—did they get solved?  How?  What lessons did you learn?  What would you change?  How can you incorporate the feedback you got?  Did you get any ideas for use in a future event? How did you feel before, during, and after—mentally and physically? 

Once you have this all down, you’ll want to find the actionable items, and incorporate that information into your systems of reference and planning, whether in notes for a specific future event, reference pages for event planning in general, peoples’ pages in your butler’s book, recipes that you used. 

Store the debrief in its entirety with your other event debriefs, for future reference on the bits like, “Didn’t I already serve that dish the last time so-and-so came over?”

Over time, you’ll refine your own system; mine, I know, is always a work in progress.

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