I really wanted to get this blog up before the Exeter Creatival as I wanted to capture this event before the next one arrived...!
It's a strange place, being between the two events... I'm part comedown and part excited build up and if I've learnt anything from it, I'll probably leave a little bit more of a gap in the future!! This middle bit is totally exhausting but on the other hand, so valuable as I can take what I've learnt from the first event through to the second.
But if you've got NO idea what I'm talking about - then I apologise! Two weeks ago I hosted an event in Manchester, and this week I'm hosting the same event in Exeter (albeit with different speakers.)
Creatival is a creative business event aimed at start ups and those already running an independent business. My inaugural Creatival was last year and this year I'm doing two! Yes. Bonkers!
So I wanted to write a little reflection post while it's all fresh in my mind and before the comedown becomes double after this week's event! Reflection is a valuable thing. The day itself tends to be a bit of a buzz & a blur - keeping everyone else's needs above your own, and it's only once it's over and you've had a chance to process it that you really start to take it all in.
I've also asked for feedback from the day - I sent out forms and it's also really valuable to go through those to see what I can learn for next year. Last year's feedback was great and I've put into action some of the suggestions this year which have worked really well - not having as many workshops to choose from and also 'networking boards'.
However, feedback is a funny old thing isn't it? I really value it, when it's given in a way that does offer suggestions that could benefit the event (see above.) Although when does it start to become 'opinion' rather than 'feedback'? You might say that all feedback is someone's opinion, but if that's the case, why do we ask for it at all, when everyone's opinion is so different? Surely that creates confusion and confliction?
These are geniune comments from the feedback forms I've sent out over the last week. There are a lot more but I've just handpicked some that contradict each other to show what I mean...!
Regarding the venue:
"The venue was awesome, so beautiful and I loved the little touches like the writing in the toilets."
"Venue is fine if a little lacking in daylight"
"They were all fab. I liked the fact there was a mix of inspiring speakers but also some real tangible practical ideas to take away"
"Speakers and workshop content felt aimed at new creative businesses, with little relevance or too light in content for more established businesses."
"I didn't enjoy the long breaks - I didn't know anyone and am not the best at networking."
"Longer periods of networking with people would be better for me."
"Sitting around the large tables in the main room felt a little like being at a corporate event/wedding!"
"I definitely preferred sitting around a table than in rows of chairs during the workshops as I find it easier to take notes that way."
The overall event:
"The agenda was really great as it was the right amount of variety."
"It was a very long day."
"I joined up because feedback from last year was that it was relevant for people who were in business rather than start ups or early stage. I was disappointed that it didn’t meet my expectations."
"I thought it was very well thought out, it was one of the best events I've been to."
What all this is teaching me, is that....
1. You can't please everyone. We all know this - it's why we have to define our audience, so we know who we're targeting and how to target them. But, what I have learnt from this is to make the aims & purpose of the day clearer - so people know more of what to expect. If you are incredibly introverted and hate being in a room with lots of people, then this probably isn't the kind of event for you. All I need to do is make it clearer in the promotion of the event, so I do attract the right people.
2. Not to take it to heart. It's always hard because you want everyone to have an amazing experience - but if you are offering any kind of customer facing event or service, there will always be people who walk away with it not living up to their expectations. That's not your fault and so it's not going to achieve anything by taking it personally.
3. One person's amazing is another person's disappointing. I've stayed in airbnb's before where the negative feedback is 'the wifi was crap and the TV was too small', but that kind of thing isn't important to me, and when I'm away I love to switch off and not rely on technology for my holiday so I'm attracted to accommodation like that. It's all about mindset and perception.
4. I'm not going to give out feedback forms in the future. Not because I don't want to hear it, but because the contrast in people's opinions is SO huge, that it's not giving me any clarity in what to offer.
I guess what I'm trying to say to you, and the reason I'm writing this, is that, if you've had any kind of negative feedback on a product or a service, please try not to take it personally. It's not about you and it's not an attack on what you've done. It's someone's opinion which is not fact. Opinions and views are good to receive, but don't base your business on them. It's about what you want, what you feel and what you want to give.
We talk all the time about 'trusting your gut' - and it's so important! I know, when I receive certain feedback, deep down that yes, they are right - for example labelling food rather than relying on the staff to tell you. I'll do that next time and I know it will be effective.
But some feedback is either confusing, not clear or conflicting. In which case, I'll trust my gut as to whether I want to pursue my own way of doing things or not. I don't need to justify or explain that - and neither do you. This business is yours and the decisions you make within your business should be for you.
People love to tell us what we should do. But what they really mean is here’s what they would do. Which is quite different."
Don't get me wrong - I am extremely open to feedback when it is something I can act on, I am grateful for people's thoughts. Obviously when people are raving about you on social media at how well you've done then it's wonderful - and of course I will revel in that. I will also absolutely action something that can be changed to benefit the event such as inclusivity or dietary requirements or sound quality for example. But I do need to set boundaries for myself and to get so many mixed thoughts and opinions is difficult to manage. So please please don't be afraid to share your ideas or suggestions, but don't take it to heart if I don't change something just because one person has said I should.
I don't want this to be a negative blog post - I'm actually feeling really positive about what I'm learning from this. I've been doing a lot of reading around all of this and hoping I can use it in my own feedback in the future.
Do let me know your thoughts (see what I just did there?! haha!!) I'd love to open it up for discussion - but be mindful of others.
Everyone has an opinion, but at the end of the day, you, the entrepreneur and leader of your company, possess the ultimate vision. Listen to your users, validate with research and take the feedback from your mentors into consideration. But remember, no one else can recreate the vision that was birthed in your heart and mind."
Many thanks to Tori @ Candid Films for the photography used in this post xx
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