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The Post Event Debrief: Best Practices for Team Reflection and Growth

The curtains may have closed on your latest event, but behind the scenes, a different “show” is just beginning: the post-event meeting! After your event, while your team may deserve a moment to catch their breath, real magic happens when they gather together while the event is fresh in their minds. This is your chance to focus on elevating not just the next event, but your team’s overall performance as well as your company’s success.

I’m not interested in great; I want to know who its daddy is.

Senior Partner at Pearson Specter Litt
(“Suits” show, Season 7)

The Plus/Delta Meeting

At the B2Group, these meetings are a cornerstone of our team’s routine. Once we wrap up a recent corporate event, gala or large meeting, we like to gather everyone together as soon as possible for a Plus Delta meeting. This isn’t just another post-event debrief; it’s an opportunity for us to reflect on our collective efforts, celebrate our successes, and identify areas where we can grow and improve our event and media project skills. We also extend our invitation to key members of our third-party vendor companies who were integral to the event or project, recognizing them as an extension of our team.

In this meeting, we focus on two main aspects…you guessed it…the “pluses” and the “deltas.”

The “Pluses”

The pluses represent the positive aspects of our event and media project execution—what went well, what we’re proud of, and what we want to commend each other for. It’s important to take a moment to celebrate our achievements and acknowledge the hard work and dedication that went into making the event a success.

The “Deltas”

On the flip side, we’ll also discuss the “deltas”. These are areas where we can make improvements or changes for future events and media projects. This isn’t about pointing fingers or assigning blame; it’s about learning and growing together as a team. By openly sharing our observations and insights, we can identify opportunities for development and ensure that we continue to raise the bar with each event we undertake.

This meeting is a safe space for everyone to share their thoughts and opinions honestly. The team is there to support one other, learn from our experiences, and move forward together. It’s our belief that constructive feedback is essential for growth, and every suggestion or idea—no matter how small—is valuable and worthy of consideration.

The Plus/Delta Overview

Focus: Emphasizes identifying both positive aspects and areas for improvement or change.

Scope: Typically used in a wide range of settings, including event management, team development, and organizational improvement.

Terminology: Uses the terms “pluses” and “deltas” to categorize feedback and insights.

Purpose: Encourages open and constructive feedback, celebrates successes, and highlights opportunities for growth and development.

The Post-Event Debrief

A post-event debrief is a broader review of the event as a whole, while a plus/delta analysis is a specific feedback-gathering technique focused on identifying positives and areas for improvement.

This is the meeting held after an event to review its overall, big-picture performance, outcomes, and execution. It involves discussing what went well during the event and media production, what didn’t go as planned, and any key takeaways or lessons learned.

The focus is on analyzing the event as a whole and identifying areas for improvement for future events. It involves a broader discussion involving various aspects of the event, such as attendee experience, client communication and perceptions, event/media pace, media styles, atmosphere, vendor integration and relationships, etc.

The goal is to gather feedback, assess performance, and make adjustments to enhance future events and media.

The Post-Event Debrief Overview

Focus: Reviews the execution of a specific event or activity, assessing what worked well, what could be improved, and any notable observations or feedback.

Scope: Typically applied to events, conferences, meetings, galas, product launches, training sessions, or exercises in a high-level manner.

Terminology: Uses the term “debrief” to describe the process of reviewing and discussing the event.

Purpose: Captures insights, feedback, and recommendations to enhance future event planning, logistics, execution, and participant experience.

While the two types of meetings above share similarities in promoting reflection and continuous improvement, they vary in their specific focus, terminology, and application across the different “altitudes” of event and media production.

The Project Post-Mortem Meeting

As you’re likely aware, planning and producing an event and its accompanying media elements entails a collection of interconnected projects. Together, they lay the foundation for The Event. It’s crucial to conduct project analysis early in the process—ideally during the planning phase—rather than after the event concludes. This proactive, ongoing approach allows for a thorough examination of drilling down to what is working, what isn’t, and why, enabling you to gather valuable insights to ensure ultimate success.

The term might sound a bit morbid, but in the context of your event/media team’s work, it’s actually quite constructive. So, what is a project post-mortem? Essentially, it’s an in-depth analysis of a specific project, event, or initiative that you’ve recently completed. You’ll be doing a dive deep into what contributed to its success or failure.

The terminology itself comes from the medical field, where a post-mortem is an examination conducted after someone has passed away. It’s a scientific approach. In the context of event and media production, it’s not about pointing fingers or assigning blame. Instead, it’s about analyzing and breaking down what exactly happened, and learning from your experiences.

Ultimately, you want to identify the lessons learned from each project, pinpoint any root causes of issues you encountered, and highlight areas where the team can improve. This information is incredibly valuable because it informs how to approach the next project and helps your team to avoid making the same mistakes.

It is vital for the team to be open and honest, understanding it isn’t about criticizing each other; it’s about collectively getting better at what they all do. By the end of this meeting, the hope is that they’ll have a clearer understanding of what went well, what didn’t, and how you can move forward stronger and more effectively than before.

The Post-Mortem Overview

Focus: Analyzes the factors contributing to the success or failure of a specific project or initiative.

Scope: Often associated with software development and engineering, but also used in other contexts such as event project planning and media production.

Terminology: Derives from the medical term “post-mortem,” meaning a detailed examination or analysis conducted after the fact.

Purpose: Identifies lessons learned, root causes of issues, and areas for improvement to inform ongoing and future projects and prevent similar problems from occurring.

In Conclusion

Whether it’s a Plus Delta, a Post-Event Debrief, or a Post-Mortem Meeting, it’s crucial to come in with an open mind, a sense of teamwork, and the vibe of “let’s get better together.” Think of it as a combo of celebrating your wins, learning from mistakes, and plotting event magnificence.

By framing the meeting properly, you’ll turn these meetings into a friendly chat where everyone’s cool with sharing their “oops” moments and “nailed it” stories, emphasizing the importance of both successes and failures, and creating a supportive environment where honest feedback is encouraged and valued. This approach should help mitigate defensiveness and foster constructive dialogue among your team.

Ultimately, the journey from event planning and execution to post-event reflection is a pivotal phase in the pursuit of excellence! It helps ensure that each event becomes a steppingstone toward greater success.