Observations can provide rich insight into your audience. They may include things like:
- basic demographic observations – who is there?
- behavioural observations – what are they doing?
- time spent at different parts of the event
- actions at different parts of the event
- facial expressions
Observations can be difficult to collect as you need to have at least one person whose job it is to observe attendees’ behaviour at the event.
You may use ‘sneaky friends’ who go up and have a chat to people to find out what they are thinking (with thanks for terminology to Carly Siebentritt from CSIRO Education, Victoria).
In order for observations to be most useful, they need to be collected systematically and rigorously. Otherwise they may not really tell you how the audience is responding to the event.
Even so, observations will be subjective and this is an inherent limitation. Without knowing a person, it can be difficult to interpret actions and facial expressions. For example, how can you tell whether a person on their phone is bored and checking Facebook, or tweeting about the really interesting thing they just learned, or texting a friend to come and join them at a really fun event?