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9 Best Practices for Webinar Polling During Virtual Events

Robert Strobl
May 7, 2022

Why polling is so important? One of the most common complaints from webinar attendees is that “webinars are boring”. The last thing you need is bored and restless webinar guests. Bored attendees are much less likely to engage with your webinar. 

Interactive features boost engagement during webinars and prevent boredom. One of the most engaging features you can use during a webinar is polling. A high-quality poll containing interesting questions can breathe new life into your session. We can use polls to learn more about our audience, ask for feedback, or keep attendees engaged.

How do we create a high-quality poll? The key to a successful poll with a high response rate is to pre-plan and ask the right questions. Good polls require some planning and effort on your part.

To help you, we have put together our 9 best practices for webinar polling during live events. Follow them, and you will be well on your way to producing excellent polls with high response rates. 

1. Keep it simple

Make sure all of your questions are simple and easy to understand. Don’t overcomplicate things unnecessarily. Your poll questions need to suit the audience and subject of your webinar.

Simple questions are easy to understand and make it easy for people to participate in your poll. You should always start your poll with the most simple questions. This way, attendees will be gripped from the start and may answer more complex questions later on.

2. Questions need a clear meaning

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Your poll questions shouldn’t be ambiguous and unclear. People don’t like answering questions they don’t understand. Plain and direct questions stand a much better chance of receiving a response.

Always sense-check your questions to make sure you aren’t asking any double questions. Clarity goes hand in hand with question length. As a rule of thumb, the longer a question, the easier it is to misinterpret the meaning.

3. Ask relevant questions

Your questions should be relevant to the webinar. There are some exceptions. For example, we all love the occasional joke question. If attendees start receiving questions they perceive as off-topic or irrelevant, they may be less willing to answer.

In a worst-case scenario, attendees could perceive irrelevant questions as a waste of time or overly intrusive. Once again, it comes down to understanding your audience and their interests.  

4. Know when to include a neutral answer

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A neutral answer could be “unsure”, “prefer not to say”, “skip”, or “N/A”. Whether you include a neutral answer will depend on the type of question.

For example, if you ask the audience, “are you enjoying the weather today?” you are unlikely to offend anyone by offering a yes/no response. 

Some good examples of when to include a neutral answer include “how old are you?” this is a personal question that some people won’t want to answer. Another example could be, “what political party did you vote for at the last election?”.

These are personal questions which require a neutral answer. Not giving participants the chance to avoid questions like this will hurt your response rate. Even worse, it could be seen as rude.

5. Ask engaging questions

What’s the only thing worse than a boring webinar? A boring poll. Nobody, absolutely nobody, enjoys boring, repetitive, and unengaging polls. For the participant, it can feel like you are simply using them as part of a market research exercise. Even if this is partly true, it shouldn’t feel that way. 

When we decide on our questions, you need to include some interesting options. You need to make the participant want to finish the poll and not feel like they are answering a government survey.

Here are some examples of questions that engage participants: “do you enjoy your job?”, “what is your favourite model of car?”, “if you could improve our product in one aspect, what would it be?”.

Engaging questions make the participant feel like you genuinely value their thoughts and opinions. Ask engaging questions, and you will get valuable answers.

6. Don’t ask too many questions

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Unfortunately, there are limits to human attention span. No one wants to spend 30 minutes answering 20+ questions. Not only will you bore your audience, but you will receive low quality, low effort responses. Low-quality responses can skew your data and result in a wasted effort. 

Generally, the length and complexity of your questions will determine how many you can ask before participants disengage. Most people won’t have any problem answering ten simple questions. The same won’t be true if you ask long-winded, complicated questions. 

7. Make sure everyone knows how to take part in the poll

It’s not uncommon for webinar attendees to be using the webinar platform for the first time. Make sure you explain how to take part in the poll. If you need help choosing a platform, check out our top 5 tips for choosing the best webinar software.

Make sure your platform has an easy to use and intuitive UI. Participants won’t want to participate if they can’t easily use the platform. Samba Live for Webinars has a modern and super easy to use UI. Check out our page on polling for more information.

Conducting your polls with a leading webinar platform like Samba Live will help you get better response rates from participants. G2 recently awarded Samba Live “high-performer” status in their Spring 2022 Report

8. Consider how participants will interpret your questions

An extremely important best practice when it comes to polling. To keep your poll good-natured and inclusive, you must always consider how participants will interpret your questions. As a rule of thumb, avoid unpleasant, insensitive, or politically charged questions. 

You need to know your audience and keep your questions relevant. Always consider how different minorities might interpret a question differently from yourself.

For example, important cultural and religious reasons could cause a participant to take offence to a question you consider acceptable.

9. Should you show results?

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Showing results is generally up to you, but you should consider some key things. Participants are often curious about the answers to a question, and showing them the answers to a question can boost engagement. Letting people see results is usually ok for simple and good-natured questions. 

However, there are times when you should think twice about allowing participants to view answers. For example, it would be highly inappropriate to ask people, “have you recently suffered from a medical condition?” and publically display answers. If you conduct an anonymous poll, you may have more leeway. Make it clear from the start if your poll is anonymous to avoid confusion. 

Wrap-up

Polling is an excellent way to boost engagement and conduct market research. If you follow our 9 best practices and put some time into your questions, you will be surprised by the results you can achieve. You will also avoid common pitfalls like asking intrusive or insensitive questions.

A fun and engaging poll that caters to your participants’ interests will help you create a unique and interesting webinar experience. Attendees want to feel like their time matters and that their opinions are important.

Nothing screams low-effort like a poor quality poll. If you master polling, you will always be able to provide high-quality and unique content. 

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