Make it Simple and Relevant


I don’t care if you use paper, an online system, mobile app or Audience Response System (ARS) rental — if your questions are not effective or the survey is too long, you will not receive the type of feedback needed to improve your meeting. Period.

However, there is much to be said for getting rid of paper. For starters, attendees don’t like it, want it and won’t respond on it (2% if you are lucky). Second, it isn’t green. Third, it takes resources to tally the results. Lastly, reporting the results can be sporadic.

So let’s make a pledge right now, that paper surveys are gone from your meeting!

Which leads me back to using better tools and implementing a better process.

Here is the best practices method for developing a great event survey and the technology options to gather the results.

Survey Best Practices


  1. Start with your purpose and be transparent.

    Why do you want this feedback? To make your event better? To ensure the proper outcomes occurred during a training session? To rate your speakers?Whatever your purpose, tell the survey participants exactly WHY you need their feedback and let them know how you will be reporting the results.
  2. Determine if you are going to do live polling, session and/or overall event surveys.Live polling can occur on ARS units or via mobile apps (such as Poll Everywhere, polltogo or Pollex). This type of survey is usually completed real-time and the purpose to is to take the audience’s temperature on speaker, topic, event or venue at that point in time. All questions are closed and either answered via yes-no, true-false or multiple choice in nature.

Session surveys are given at the end of the breakout or keynote session and can be as simple as a star rating of the session/speaker or more intense multiple choice questions. If ARS systems are used, you will know if you have 100% completeness on each question and instantly know how the audience answered each question. Because you may be asking attendees to do this several times a day, it is best to keep your questions to a minimum.

Event surveys are completed at the conclusion of the conference. These usually have a combination of closed and open ended questions and may take a bit longer.

  1. Ask quality questions.Rather than focusing on quantity, look for quality questions that can make your event or meeting better. Let questions about the room set-up, food choices and entertainment go in favor for did it meet the expectations of each attendee and how can you improve the experience for them next year.
  2. Make it short and sweet.

    Whatever feedback you need should be answered in less than 10 questions and 10 minutes. If you start asking attendees deep questions on an event survey they will do one of two things – answer quickly without much thought or bounce out of the survey tool all together.
  3. Give them time.

    If you want participants to fill it out, you need to give them enough time to respond. Earmark time in your keynote and breakout sessions. Provide kiosk rentals where attendees can fill out the online survey during breaks. Work it into the program and ask them to do it while it is fresh in their mind.


Technology Options


In summary, these are your technology option depending on what type of survey you are administering:


Live Polling

Best used in a meeting, looking for a quick, one-question-at-a-time response

Mobile Applications: Some free, some fee

Hardware: Smartphones, Tablets or Audience Response Units (which require no software)


Session Surveys

Best used in a session, looking for rating and/or answers to close-ended questions

Applications: Most fee based – some web-based platforms are free

Hardware: ARS, mobile devices, kiosks


Event Survey

Best used to capture the overall feedback of the event – a combination of closed and open-ended questions

Applications: Some free, some fee

Hardware: Tablets or Kiosks


SmartSource Rentals is Your Home for Survey Tools

SmartSource Rentals can easily supply you with the right tools to support any training session, presentation or conference. Get your equipment quote today as we have a full line of mobile devices, ARS units and more!