Event Survey Best Practices: How to Avoid Sending out the Worst Event Survey Ever

The feedback that event planners get from event surveys, session evaluations, and polls is crucial for accentuating the positive and eradicating the negative at future events. But surveys are garbage in, garbage out propositions—if you don’t ask attendees good questions, you won’t get good responses. Here are some basic rules of thumb for designing the best event survey and a list of actual questions that you can adapt for your own event.

Event Survey Best Practices

The most frequently cited event survey best practices lean toward brevity, clarity, and relevancy. For example:

  1. Keep the questions short. Respondents won’t and don’t take the time to read questions that lumber on. Post-event response rates are already below 10 percent.
  2. Vary the question types to make the survey more interesting overall. Use matrices, multiple choice, yes or no, and infrequently (especially on mobile devices) essay-type responses to mix it up.
  3. Include one question that elicits an overall rating on the event. The responses to that question can provide planners with an easy reference for which way the event is moving (increasing or decreasing in effectiveness and customer satisfaction).
  4. Keep the number of questions on the post event survey to twelve or less. Polls and session evaluations should not exceed five in number.
  5. Keep questions relevant to the respondent and subject matter. If not everyone being surveyed attended the keynote or ate chicken for lunch, don’t ask a question about either of those topics to all respondents.
  6. Avoid leading questions. Don’t influence a response by coloring the language of the question. You’re only setting yourself up for unreliable responses.
  7. Think about your priorities. If your organization has pressing issues for which you need answers, put those on the survey instead of the more general questions.
  8. Think about question types in terms of how you will present survey results. In a world that is in love with visuals, think about the graphs, pie charts, bar graphs and infographics you can make from survey results to make the information more meaningful for your managers and team.


Woman creating event survey questions at coffee shop

Post-event Survey Questions

Post-event surveys are widely used for getting attendees’ overall impression about your event. So, in order to get the information you want, be very deliberate in how and what you ask respondents after the event. Each question takes up important real estate on the survey. Here are some sample questions for attendees:

  1.     What influenced you most in your decision to attend?
  2.     Will you attend this event next year? If not, why not?
  3.     What was your most relevant takeaway from this event?
  4.     How would you rate this event overall?
  5.     Rate each of the below event services.
  6.     What is one thing we could do better next year?
  7.     What one thing do you never want to experience at this event again?
  8.     How many important contacts or leads did you obtain during this event?

Man looking for event survey question templates

Event Evaluation Survey Questions

Event evaluation survey questions help planners gauge the audience’s reaction to the speaker, topic, or content of the presentation. Attendees don’t usually have much time between sessions to complete evaluations, so brevity is important. Take a look at these examples:

  1.     What are you going to do based on what you learned at this session?
  2.     Would you like to hear from this speaker at future events?
  3.     How will this presentation change the way you work/sell/buy?
  4.     How knowledgeable was the presenter about the topic? (Ask this question about each individual presenter when a panel format is used)
  5.     Rate your level of interest in this topic.
  6.     Rate the usefulness of this topic to your job.
  7.     Did you get what you came for from this session?
  8.     Were you able to ask a question during this session?

Here are other event survey examples to review. 

Event Polls

Polls are generally used as ways to provide context, take the temperature of the audience, and get participants engaged. Ask multiple choice questions so that the polling technology can quickly tabulate the responses.  You may want to consult with speakers on this point beforehand.  Here are some typical poll questions:

  1.     Describe your job role.
  2.     Describe your level of understanding of this topic (ask this question pre-presentation and post-presentation).
  3.     How would you respond to [insert a provocative question related to the topic]?
  4.     How would you address [describe a common problem or pain point related to the topic]?
  5.     How many times have you encountered [describe a recurring situation or hot topic]?
  6.     What do you believe the industry should do about [describe a pressing issue]?
  7.     What has been your experience with [insert the session topic]?
  8.     What are the challenges that you have experienced with [insert session topic]?

Audience participating in event survey questionnaire

At the end of the day, writing the most effective event attendee survey questions (which means not asking the worst survey questions ever) is a factor of precision and speed, i.e. enabling respondents to answer the best questions in the shortest amount of time. A mobile app can, not only gather more data, more quickly, but it can also tabulate survey responses fast into a usable, consistent format that can be referenced year after year.

What’s Next?