May 21, 2024
By Mike Fletcher

When creating surveys to collect feedback before, during or after your event, there are numerous ways to frame the questions. The style you choose can make all the difference to the level of detail in people’s answers or the amount of actionable data you receive. 

When used correctly, these eight styles of survey questions will allow you to gather meaningful insights about attendees’ attitudes, behaviours, opinions or experiences. 

Read on to discover more about each style of survey question and when to use it. 

What are the different types of survey questions?

The best way to start your survey is to understand each part of it. The most important part is formulating and choosing your questions.

For starters, there are five main types of survey questions. Keep in mind that each type of question collects a different type of data, and while many survey questions are closed-ended, you can also leverage open-ended questions to great effect.

1. Open-ended questions

Ask open-ended questions for more detailed answers. Questions such as, How can we improve this event?or What topics would you like us to cover next time?will provide a wealth of ideas. 

Open-ended questions are great for qualitative research because the respondent’s answers will be personalised every time. When used in a questionnaire, they are typically answered using text boxes.

Keep in mind that open-ended questions take more to analyse but provide deeper insight. So, make your questions as specific as possible to ensure more guided responses. Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT will help you come up with a choice of questions to include, saving you valuable time. 

Other examples:

  • What made you choose to attend our event?
  • What is one thing you would change about this year's event?
  • What are two ways we could improve accessibility at our event?
  • Please share any suggestions for topics that you would like to see covered in future events.
Event Survey Questions

2. Closed questions

Closed questions are ideal for producing quantitative or countable responses such as the number of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ replies. By providing a limited number of pre-defined answers to choose, it makes them easier to compare and analyse. 

Asking Yes/Noquestions or providing statements and asking your attendees if they consider them to be true or false will give you both basic sentiment and allow you to assess key objectives. 

Consider questions such as, Did you leave with a greater understanding of the topic than when you arrived? Yes/Noor I had a successful show and will rebook for next year. True/False.

Other examples:

  • Did you achieve your event objectives? (Yes/No)
  • Did the conference meet your expectations? (Yes/No)
  • Were there enough networking opportunities during the conference? (Yes/No)

3. Multiple-choice questions

Multiple-choice questions are regularly used to gather demographic information or to reveal further sentiment about certain issues. 

If you’re looking for sentiments, ask your attendees to rate specific aspects of your event and give them options ranging from Excellentto Good, Averageand Poor.

If you want to understand more about your audience’s demographic, group your available answers into ranges for factors like age, how far attendees have travelled, how much budget they manage, or how long they’ve been in their current role. 

Remember, multiple-choice questions are quicker to answer and much easier to complete on smartphones. 

Other examples: 

What type of events do you stage more of? (Select one)

  • Conferences
  • Exhibitions
  • Product launches
  • Seminars
  • Hospitality
  • Virtual / webinars

How did you hear about our event?

  • Social Media
  • Email
  • Word of mouth
  • Your company
  • Other (please specify)

4. Ordinal Scale Questions

This type of survey question asks respondents to rank items or choose from an ordered set. This is helpful when you want to determine the importance of each criterion so that you can adjust or determine strategy, for example. 

Make sure to identify your number scale (e.g. 1 being the first choice and 5 being the last choice, etc.).

Other examples: 

When considering an event invite, please rank the importance of the following (Please fill in your rank order using numbers 1 through 5, with 1 being the most important):

  • Daytime only
  • Evening after-work
  • How far do I have to travel?
  • Who else is attending?
  • Can I bring a colleague? 

When deciding to attend our event, please rank the importance of the following (Please fill in your rank order using numbers 1 through 5, with 1 being the most important):

5. Interval scale questions

Participants are asked to rate a series of choices on an interval scale (say 1-5) where 1 may equal Not at all importantand 5 may equalVery important. 

For example: On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied were you with our event’s overall content and speaker choice?

You can also use a variety of other scales such as frequency (daily to annually, never to always), comparative weighting, stars, smileyemojis, hearts and more. 

Standardised scales ensure that responses are consistent and can be compared across respondents and surveys.

Use interval scale questions when you want to gauge a range of opinions.

Remember, rating questions are relatively easy to understand and answer, which can increase response rates and reduce survey fatigue.

Other examples: 

Please rate the quality of this event.

  • Very Poor 
  • Poor 
  • Satisfactory 
  • Good 
  • Excellent

How strongly do you agree with this statement? “This event was worth the cost of attending.”

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

6. Ratio scale questions

This survey question type asks respondents to provide measurable answers. Ratio scale questions are commonly used to collect data on variables such as income, age, or hours spent.

Ratio scale questions have a true zero and typically, they're presented in an ordinal way with ranges. However, these ranges can still be treated as ratio responses for analysis by starting with a zero option and having a consistent upper limit. 

For example: How many hours a day do you spend on a computer?

0-2 hours | 2-4 hours | 4-6 hours | more than 6 hours

Other examples: 

How many months in advance do you typically begin planning your events?

  • 0-2 months
  • 3-6 months
  • 7-9 months
  • 10-12 months
  • More than 1 year in advance. 

In the past 12 months, how many events have you attended through your company?

  • 0-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-10
  • More than 10 events

7. Hypothetical questions

Use hypothetical questions to capture survey respondentsopinions and beliefs about something that hasnt happened, but could. They are useful for early-stage event planning and gauging initial reactions to ideas. 

For example: If we organised an afternoon tour of next year’s conference destination the day before the event starts, would you arrive in the morning, a day early? Yes/No

These scenario-based questions can help you to develop ideas and elicit interest that can be used to attract sponsors or justify plans to stakeholders. 

Other examples: 

Should next year’s event be a two-day show, starting on a Saturday instead of a three-day show, opening on a Friday? Yes/No

If we added a social event on the first night of next year’s conference, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most important) how would you rate these reasons for attending:

  • Networking
  • Entertainment 
  • Venue
  • Education & Learning 
  • Food & Beverage

How to write great survey questions

When creating event survey questions, keep these top tips in mind:

  • Define your objectives: Before starting, create a list of objectives that outlines the kind of information you’re trying to obtain with each question. A plan for how you will use the data gathered from each response will help you ensure that the questions are targeted, relevant, and purposeful.
  • Keep it short: Your attendeestime at your event is precious so only ask questions during your event that are vital to your understanding of their experience. You can ask for more information before and after your event but remain mindful of how much time it takes to complete a survey.
  • Use unambiguous language: Avoid jargon or complex wording that may confuse your respondents. If someone could interpret a question differently than you intended, the question can be improved. Avoid ambiguities. Never take it for granted that people know what you mean in a survey question.
  • Only ask questions that people can answer: Avoid questions that rely on long-term memory or calculations. Attendees may not recall which of your previoius events they attended or how much their budgets have risen in the past five years. 
  • Consider phraseology: Avoid loaded questions, double-barreled questions, or language that may be considered biased. 

Tech to inspire great surveys

When choosing technology that will collect smart, timely survey data, opt for a centralised solution that will streamline your setup, saving you time and giving you greater visibility and enhanced options to personalise the survey experience. 

Cvent Surveys / Surveys Premium

To understand how attendees perceive your event, you need to be able to ask the right questions, to the right audience, at the right time, using the right technology. 

A tool like Surveys Premium allows you to: 

  • Collect feedback from attendees throughout the event, at the exact times you want, and with the questions that are relevant at that time. 
  • Ask different questions for different sessions to collect feedback most relevant to each. 
  • Request responses only from attendees who meet your criteria. 
  • Control question visibility, such as specifying which questions to make visible to virtual or in-person attendees within a survey. 

For practical tips and insights that will help you plan, organise, and execute successful in-person events, download our Ultimate Guide to In-person Events. It will help you achieve your event goals and exceed attendees’ expectations.

Mike Fletcher

Mike Fletcher

Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for almost 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.

The Ultimate Guide to In-Person Events
Guide to In-Person Events
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