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5 Tips for Writing Effective Event Survey Questions

Surveys are one of the most important tools for event planning. Without feedback, it’s impossible to gauge the success of an event. The greatest strength of surveys is their versatility–use surveys before, during, and after your event to measure your attendees’ interest and satisfaction. Send out a survey before your event to ensure you will meet your attendee’s expectations. Use surveys after an event to see where you’ve excelled and pinpoint what will need improvement next time.

Surveys can be one of the easiest and most effective ways to obtain attendee feedback. However, your survey results are only as reliable as your survey questions. You must take care to ask questions without bias in order to obtain the best results. Review these five tips for asking effective questions before you begin to write your next survey.

Avoid Leading Questions

Make sure that you do not include any information that may influence a respondent’s answer. Survey questions should be short and to-the-point; eliminate any wording that isn’t necessary.

How helpful was the presentation by world-renowned expert Joe Smith?

Survey questions shouldn’t include how you feel, they should ask how your attendees feel. To fix this biased question, simply remove “world-renowned expert.”

How helpful was Joe Smith’s presentation?

Ask One Thing At a Time

It can be tempting to combine similar questions in order to cut down on a lengthy questionnaire. However, these “double-barrelled” questions are often confusing for respondents and lead to inaccurate results.

Do you plan to attend the networking reception and awards dinner?

This question raises more questions than it answers. Is the networking reception and awards dinner one event? Two? It’s better slow down and ask one thing at a time, even if it seems redundant.

Will you attend the networking reception?

Will you attend the awards dinner?

Give the Option Not to Answer

Sometimes you need to ask a question that will not apply to all of your respondents. Or, you may want to include a demographic question, like race or gender, that some people prefer not to answer. Include the option to answer “not applicable” or to skip the question. Failing to give a respondent the option not to answer a question may result in them choosing to not to complete the survey at all.

Offer Consistent and Balanced Rating Scales

When you ask a question with a rating scale, include an equal number of positive and negative choices. If you have more than one question with a rating scale, keep the rating scales consistent. Provide an explanation for rating scales that include numbers. Don’t leave it up to your respondents to assume whether 1 is the best or the worst.

Howto.gov offers an excellent reference table for rating scales:

Source: HowTo.gov

When in doubt, consult this table to choose a balanced rating scale that best fits your question.

Cover All of the Options Without Overlapping

When using multiple choice questions, it’s important to include all of the possible answers. It is better to include an “other” option than to risk missing something altogether. Avoid options that overlap or your respondent may not know which to choose.

How many workshops did you attend?

  • 1-5

  • 5-10

  • 10-15

These options overlap–if you’ve attended 5 workshops, there are two different answers you could select.

How many workshops did you attend?

  • 1-5

  • 6-10

  • 11-15