The motto “there are no bad questions” does not apply to surveys. There is definitely a right and wrong way to ask attendees for feedback.

The wrong way can confuse and annoy attendees — and ultimately lead to them giving up on your survey. It can also affect the accuracy of the answers you get. If you’re getting biased answers — and making critical changes to your events as a result — it could seriously undermine the success of your future events.

Here are nine common mistakes the SurveyMonkey team sees event creators often make with event survey questions, and how to correct them so you receive helpful results.

1. Asking leading questions

You’re not trying to convince attendees to say they liked your event. You’re an earnest event creator looking for authentic input. So don’t “lead the witness” by trying to put words in attendees’ mouths. Instead, ask questions that leave room for an honest response.

Wrong Right
Was the keynote speaker the highlight for you?

  • Yes
  • No
What was the highlight for you?

  • The keynote speaker
  • The breakout sessions
  • The catering
  • Other _______________________

Pro tip: If your multiple-choice or dropdown list doesn’t offer the option they’re looking for, they might get discouraged. To gather accurate and enthusiastic answers, set survey-takers up for success with an “other” option, even for something as seemingly straightforward as gender.

2. Asking loaded questions

Don’t assume anything about your attendees experience — for example, that the attendee drove a car to your event. It makes answering difficult and confusing, particularly if they’re pressured to answer the question before moving to the next.

Wrong Right
Where did you park your car during the event?

  • The street
  • The parking garage
  • The lot
How did you get to the event?

  • I drove my car
  • I took public transportation
  • I took a ride-share
  • I walked
  • Other _______________________

Pro tip: If you still want to know where the car-drivers parked, use a nifty trick SurveyMonkey calls “skip logic.” This mechanism allows you to show people only the questions that are relevant to them. For instance:

Question: How did you get to the event?
If they replied “I drove my car,” ask a selective follow-up question:

Where did you park?

  • In the designated event lot
  • In another parking lot or garage
  • On the street
If they chose “I took a ride-share,” ask a different question:

Which rideshare company did you use?

  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • Other

Skip logic helps keep your event survey as short as possible, and as relevant to each individual as possible, too.

3. Asking double-barreled questions

In your attempts to keep your survey short and sweet, don’t fall into the trap of trying to lump two different questions into one.

Wrong Right
Was our staff friendly and professional?

  • Yes
  • No
Was our staff friendly?

  • Yes
  • No

Was our staff professional?

  • Yes
  • No

It’s entirely possible your staff was friendly, yet not professional, or vice versa.

4. Asking absolutes in questions

When you force respondents to reply that they “always” or “never” do something, you risk inaccurate answers. People are complex, and their behavior is not always consistent. Don’t raise the stakes by making them take a stand.

Wrong Right
Do you always hand out your business card when you meet someone new at an event?

  • Yes
  • No
How likely are you to hand out your business card to someone you meet at an event?

  • Highly likely
  • Somewhat likely
  • Not that likely

5. Using jargony language

Don’t assume your survey takers are hip to the latest acronyms and technology verbiage. Use clear, simple language that everyone will understand.

Wrong Right
Are you interested in the ROI of AI? Are you interested in learning more about artificial intelligence (AI) and its return on investment (ROI)?

6. Asking overly personal questions

People are less likely to answer questions that feel encroaching or threatening. Instead, ask questions that give you precise information without being creepy.

Wrong Right
What’s your street address? Which neighborhood best describes where you live?

7. Burying your lede

In journalism parlance, “burying your lede” means failing to emphasize the key to the story up front. You have to capture people quickly if you want them to pay attention.

Similarly, SurveyMonkey suggests asking your most important survey question first. In fact, they suggest you include that question right in the email itself. That “lede” question should be both easy and compelling to answer, for instance:

Overall, how satisfied were you with this event?

Placing your first survey question in the email is a practice that can increase your opens by up to 22% and the number of people who finish your survey by 20%.

8. Trying to jam a bunch of questions onto one screen

Fewer questions on each page is survey best practice. SurveyMonkey recommends one to five questions, max.

Since SurveyMonkey captures the data every time the user clicks “next,” this practice ensures you record as many answers as possible, even when attendees don’t complete the full survey.

9. Forgetting about your brand voice

If your buttoned-up brand suddenly starts using hipster slang in survey copy, people will wonder whether you’ve been brand-snatched.

The more consistent you are in your language and tone across every platform, the more recognizable and friendly your “brand voice” becomes.

Ask these event survey questions instead

Avoid these common event survey question mistakes — and use The Most Important Event Survey Questions to Ask Attendees instead. 

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