When developing engaging webinar content, an important tool at your fingertips is polling. Used correctly, polling questions serve multiple functions. They help your audience stay interested, drive your presentation content in real time, and help you gather pertinent data on participants that can assist with follow-up conversations.
The most important thing to consider is the goal of your webinar. If you are providing educational webinars for business development, you are going to use polling differently than when you are delivering a webinar for customer success training. In this article, I will be comparing these two scenarios and giving examples for each one.
What are Webinar Polls?
Webinar polling is an engagement tool within a webinar event where the audience is asked to respond to a question in real time. Depending on the platform, you are also able to share the results with the audience if you choose, and the results are usually displayed graphically making it easy for you and your audience to respond to the results.
Can you poll participants in different ways? Of course! You can poll your participants before the webinar using the registration form, or by using the survey afterwards. You could even toss out a question during a webinar and ask your audience to respond through chat or Q&A. The difference however, is that when you use a polling feature, most webinar platforms include the data specific to polling in webinar reports.
Depending on the webinar provider, polling questions are created with three different answer types:
- Single answer
- Multiple choice
For the purposes of this article, I am referring to in-session polling using a poll function within the webinar platform. Here are some examples of what a polling feature looks like:
Why Develop Polling Questions for Webinars
Launching one or two polls during a webinar is probably one of the most effective ways to interact with and gather information on your audience. Because you have your audience’s immediate attention, you can get that data right away rather than relying on them to fill out a question before the webinar in a registration form or even in a survey after.
The benefits of polling are many. Here are some examples for two types of scenarios:
Client outreach and business development
- Polling keeps participants engaged. Any time you launch a poll, participants must click somewhere on the webinar interface. This pulls them back into the webinar if they’ve been distracted elsewhere.
- Your participants are adults. It’s better for them to actively participate than to expect them to sit passively for an entire 45 minutes. Adults like to share their ideas, insights, experiences and opinions.
- When you capture poll responses, these are most likely included in the attendee reports from your webinar provider. Responses can be used as warm conversation openers when you follow-up with audience members. For example, let’s say you launched a poll on recent experiences related to retail banking. Based on an individual’s response captured in the report, you’re follow-up email might look like: “Thank you for attending our webinar. I’d love to meet with you for a brief call and hear more about the challenges you’ve experienced with retail banking.”
Customer onboarding and success training
- Polling keeps your participants engaged but also helps you check for understanding. Think of it as a mini test after showcasing a set of procedures or teaching account setup. Because it’s in real time, you can easily see if your audience is “getting it” or if you need to review any steps.
- Use this function to get real time feedback on who your audience is during each session. You may have one session with more beginners and another with more advanced, or yet another with varying roles. What information about them will help you direct your content? This enables you to customize each webinar to that specific audience. Your webinar becomes more valuable as a result, and your customers will appreciate the time spent with you.
- Studies tell us that people need a short pause or activity every 15-20 minutes in order for information to be moved into short-term memory, otherwise the data gets overridden. It’s effective, then, to use polling as a means to pause and let the learning sink in. This supports your training efforts.
Examples of Webinar Polling Questions for Client Outreach and Business Development
For this scenario, you want to offer questions that are interesting to your audience, but also provide responses that help you customize content in real time and are helpful to you in follow-up conversations. Here are some examples:
- Open your presentation with an interesting factoid.
Example: According to the Institute of Legal Reform, which five states in the US rank as the most reasonable and fair?
- Learn about audience members’ roles or experience level to customize your content in real time (and use for follow-up).
Example: How long have you been using front office billing software?
- Understand audience members’ particular scenario and how you can help them.
Example: Where are you in the process of becoming GDPR compliant?
Examples of Webinar Polling Questions for Customer Onboarding and Success Training
For customer onboarding and success training, your poll questions should be geared towards learning and checking for understanding. Here are some examples:
- Learn about participant job function to know which features are best to showcase.
Example: What is your role in using XYZ software?
- Test participants after reviewing one or more case studies.
Example: Based on evidence given in Case Study #2, would you dismiss this case? (Bonus: Ask participants to respond in the chat why or why not)
- Seek real time feedback on whether participants are able to follow steps correctly.
Example: After setting up your billing codes, what is the next step?
Tips for Developing Your Own Poll Questions
Here are some final tips on creating your own poll questions:
- Know your audience. Create a detailed description of your intended audience. What interests them? What is their typical experience level on the topic you’re presenting? Where are they in your onboarding process? What are you hoping to learn about your audience? What information about them would be helpful to you in prompting a follow-up conversation?
- Always make your poll questions relevant to your presentation. Do not launch a poll simply for the sake of creating variation.
- There is no hard and fast rule on how many polls to launch. As long as they are relevant, interesting and helpful, you can have 1-4 polls during a 1-hour webinar.
- Include a poll transition slide in your presentation as a cue to yourself and your audience that it’s polling time!
Launch a Poll Sample Script
Okay you’ve created a poll or two, now what? If you’re new to launching polls in a webinar, below is a sample script for managing them during your event.
I’m going to start our presentation by asking you a question.
>Launch the poll.<
>Read the question out loud to the audience. Wait 20-30 seconds for attendees to respond or until 65-75% of your audience has voted. You can talk a bit about the question so there is no dead air during the poll.<
I’m curious to know how you answer! This question comes up often in our practice and there are lots of creative solutions. I’m sure some of you have encountered this problem before and I’d like to learn later on in the presentation how some of you address this issue. Okay, most of you have responded, thank you!, now let’s take a look at your responses.
>Close the poll and show the poll results. Speak to the responses and relate the poll question and the responses to your presentation.<
Final Thoughts on Polling
Polling your audience is a valuable tool in any type of webinar. Not only does it add interest and include your audience, it can help you gather pertinent data to assist you with follow-up conversation openers. If you are providing customer onboarding training, polls can draw your participants back into the training by engaging them, and you can easily use them to check for understanding.
After your webinar, be sure to check out the reports offered by your webinar provider. There is most likely a report specifically geared towards audience engagement and poll responses. This enables you to easily get data on how each participant responded.
Lastly, remember to get clear on your audience so that you create poll questions that are relevant to them, and make sure the polls are relevant to your presentation topic.
Here’s to your success!
Corena Bahr is a Consultant & Trainer helping experts at corporations and global firms deliver world-class webinars for client outreach and customer onboarding. She teaches experts how to create a human connection with a virtual audience, structure content for engagement, and how to use the “bells & whistles” of webinar platforms to drive business goals. Corena is also a LinkedIn Learning course author and public speaker.