8 Best Practices for Webinar Polling During Virtual Events

During a Webinar or Virtual Event, taking polls is an easy way to learn more about your audience and their experience level, check whether they can recall important information you have presented, or gather feedback on the efficacy of your presentation. So, how do you decide on the types of questions you should be asking your audience?



Be sure to start with a set goal in mind. If you plan to ask a lot of questions, remember that you are asking your audience to do some work. One thing to note is that you should request as little as possible of the attendees so the response rate stays high. Be clear about the goals you have for gathering the information and what you will do with this information once you have it. The answers you obtain are only as reliable as the clarity and simplicity of the questions you pose. 


8 Best Practices:

  1. Keep your poll questions simple
  2. Avoid combined questions; display one question at a time
  3. Add “Does Not Apply” as an answer option
  4. Write polling questions that will benefit the participants’ experience
  5. In advance, determine how many polling questions are appropriate
  6. Instruct participants where and how to enter answers
  7. Note that the speaker view of a polling question may be different from the participant view
  8. You don’t have to reveal your audience size when discussing poll results


1. Keep your poll questions simple.

Interpretation is a key concept to keep in mind, so the simpler the question, the better the chance that everyone in your audience will be on the same page when they answer. Keep it simple. 


2. Avoid combined questions; display one question at a time.

Make sure your questions do not have multiple answer options. If your question uses the words “and” or “or,” chances are that you have a combined question with more than one possible answer. In these situations, you should create two separate questions so each truly asks only one question. 


3. Add “Does Not Apply” as an answer option.

Many times, a participant may not have experience with or can’t relate to the question being asked. By adding “Does Not Apply” as an answer option allows all participants to continue to interact, and it provides you with further insight into your audience and their level of knowledge or experience. 


4. Write polling questions that will benefit the participants’ experience.

To make polling questions effective at stimulating participation and interactivity, they must be presented in terms of your participants’ self-interests. If your polls tend to be demographic or self-serving for you as a presenter, participants may feel they are being treated as experimental subjects providing you with value but getting none themselves. You should be able to accompany every poll with a statement of “By answering this question, you will benefit in the following way…” Possibilities include knowing more about how they compare to the community of their peers, getting you to focus your remarks on areas of greatest importance to them, getting you to talk to their level of expertise and prior knowledge, or helping to determine what webinar topics you should present in the future.


5. In advance, determine how many polling questions are appropriate.

If your presentation is going to last for at least one hour, you should plan on incorporating at least 3 polling questions and space them out so they are approximately 5-10 minutes apart. Also, while participants are responding to each poll question, be sure to continue your presentation or have some comments ready. Do not allow for “dead air” time while you are waiting for the results. This will create an awkward situation for both you and the participants. 


You will want to write all of your polling questions ahead of showtime. A comprehensive webinar planning timeline and checklist can be found here!

6. Instruct participants where and how to enter answers.

In the event that you have participants that attend many of your webinars, you may want to take a moment to let people know how to interact with the polling feature. You can either insert a slide to display during the introduction or make a verbal statement prior to starting the polling question. Let the participants know exactly where they’ll need to click and write their response. 


7. Note that the speaker view of a polling question may be different from the participant view.

If your polling question is particularly long, as a speaker, it will appear that some of the words are cut off or missing. If you hover your mouse over the question, the entire question will show for a moment; however, participants will see the entire question on their screen. This is due to the fact that there are other boxes in the speaker view that take up some of the screen. Speakers are encouraged to have copies of the polling questions available to read from if necessary. 


8. You don’t have to reveal your audience size when discussing poll results.

You have the option to show poll results as percentage figures rather than absolute numbers. If you are hiding the fact that you have a smaller than desired attendance, just talk to the percentages in the same way you would if there were more people participating. 


With these best practices for polling during webinars, it will enhance your ability to cater your webinars to the preferences of your audience. 82% of prospects say content targeted to their industry is more valuable (Marketo), so deliver webinars that truly fit people’s interests. The chief purpose of polling is to better understand what your participants respond well to so that you can then fine-tune your methods and better engage your audience. 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, and are more likely to buy from that company (The Content Council), so make your webinars about your participants. Make your polls enjoyable rather than intrusive and people will undoubtedly be coming back to you for another great webinar experience.


Topics: Surveys & Polling, Virtual Events, Virtual Events: Best Practices, Webinars & Webcasts, Webinars: Best Practices

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Should I poll my audience for every webinar or virtual event I host?
Yes. No event or audience are identical. That’s why it’s important to poll your audience as a way to engage and to learn more about their needs and preferences.
What should I ask in the polls?

It depends on the type of event you’re hosting, but you can have more fun with poll questions than with survey questions. Before your event or webinar think about what information you’d like to know about your audience. This will help you come up with questions to ask.

What are the best types of poll questions?

There are many ways to ask questions, but the most popular formats are multiple-choice, rating scales, and matrix questions.