Effective Techniques for Creating Polls and Surveys


Audience opinion is important. Even more so today. Polls and Surveys are indispensable to gauge valuable information like their opinion and feedback, connect with your audience and engage with your customers.

As Business Dictionary defines it, a PollOpens a new window aims to capture public opinion from members of a group or random set of respondents, by asking them a simple and carefully designed question to extract specific information.

A SurveyOpens a new window , on the other hand, is a detailed study of a market to collect data on opinions, satisfaction level, impressions by querying a section of a population using a set of well- designed questions.

A poll is usually quick, consisting of one multiple choice question with a limited set of options(two or three) while surveys are more comprehensive, slightly long (with many more questions). A poll aims to capture general consensus while a survey aims to gather a comprehensive picture of general public opinion.

How to Create a Good Poll?

The key is to write the good and engaging question(s). You have to let the audience see a purpose and arouse interest.

If you want to launch a new flavor of chips, a good question that will make the audience feel important could be “Which new flavor would you like to try next?”. 

This followed by two to three options that you are contemplating to launch will not only build excitement but also make the audience feel like they are a part of the company’s decision-making process.

Pro tip: Let the number of choices be limited to two or three and try including an ‘Other or Prefer not to Answer’ option. The responses will be more honest and less skewed.

How to Create a Good Survey?

A survey is generally longer than a poll and a great way to interact with your audience. In a survey, the respondents can answer using different methods. Questions can be open-ended where responses can be in the form of comments, an essay or other kinds of free response text. Close-ended questions have simple choices like ‘yes/no’, multiple choice, rating scales etc.

Going from the example above: For your new flavor of chips, the following could be the kind of questions:


  1. On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to try our Chips Brand? (1 being lowest and 10 being highest).
  2. How often do you buy our Chips?

Seldom, Often, Very Often, Regularly

Open-ended question: Please provide feedback on how can we improve our Chips to suit your taste? 

A good survey has:

1. Simple and engaging language: The essence is that respondents should feel comfortable reading and answering questions. They should feel like their opinion is important and should also not spend too much time deciphering the questions.

2. Start by simple generic questions and then move towards more specific ones: Generic questions establish a context and get the audience settled.

eg. A set of initial questions may include:

How happy you feel after eating our Chips

a) Not Happy at all     b) Neutral       c) Very Happy

and a more specific question could be

Which pack of our Tangy Tomato Flavor are you most likely to buy?

a) Small Pack              b) Large Pack              c) Party Pack

3. Avoid doubles: Try asking for one idea at a time. Eg. How likely are you to recommend our Manchurian and Lemon Flavors?

It becomes difficult for respondents to answer as they may like one and may not like the other at all. It will also be hard for you to interpret the answers. In such a scenario it’s advisable to split the question into two:

How likely are you to recommend our Manchurian Flavor?

How likely are you to recommend our Lemon Flavor?

4. Avoid misleading questions: If you are writing a question which is biased toward one answer, it violates the survey’s

objectivity and defeats the purpose altogether.

E.g. Our brand is the best in the market. How would you rate it over others?

This will likely pressure your respondent to answer more favorably than their true opinion. It would be better to rephrase your question to read:

-Rate the following brands in order of your preference?

The aim is to keep your polls and surveys balanced to gauge the absolute true and honest opinions of people. This will ultimately help you make better decisions. It’s a good idea to invest time in testing your poll or survey by getting it reviewed or answered by colleagues or people who can view the questions objectively. Incorporate feedback by asking them what better way you can phrase questions or how choices should be placed. It’s also vital to share your poll or survey results with your respondents to make them feel important and also to value the time they have spent in answering your questions.