Survey says “Yes!” to more surveys

I’m a sucker for a survey–both responding to them as a participant, but also using them as an engagement tool with the public. Surveys offer a quick way for people to share details about themselves, their community, their activities and their priorities and preferences.

As a resident, I like giving my input via surveys; particularly on my busiest days when the thought of an informational meeting or workshop is simply too much. As a public engagement consultant, I also like using surveys when the topic allows because I’ll hear from more people than I will using other tools.

Online engagement platforms like Bang the Table and PlaceSpeak make it easier than ever too to create surveys and to summarize results. If this is an option that might work for you, here are a few tips to make it easy for participants to respond and for your team to use the results.

Tips for Survey Success:

Set the Scene: The introduction should explain what is being studied/considered, how participants can learn more and who they can contact with questions. Don’t forget to tell people how long (estimated) it will take for them to complete the survey too.

Make it Conquerable: Keep individual pages short with just a couple of questions each. Stay focused on the goal of the engagement: while it may be tempting to ask more questions while you have their attention, that attention can be lost if you take too long or go too far off field.

Prepare for the End Game: Think about how the data can be summarized BEFORE you develop your survey–not after. The structure of questions will make a big difference on how onerous, and how clear; survey results are. For example: comment responses take a lot more time to sort, and they require a degree of interpretation that could impact outcomes. Make sure your survey questions are built so that the responses can be put to use.

Practice, Practice, Practice: Don’t be shy about the number of sample surveys completed. Ask colleagues to complete it once it’s uploaded too, so that they can identify anything that’s not clear or that isn’t flowing correctly. It’s amazing what can seem crystal clear to you, but can be muddy to a new reader. (Some programs allow a test setting. If not–don’t worry! In the final excel table of results you can delete the lines of sample tests completed before your launch date).

Oh–and one more thing. Don’t forget the “How did you hear about this survey?” question at the end! It’s a great way to assess ‘at a glance’ how your promotional tools are doing.

What do you ZINC? Will surveys be a part of your engagement plans in 2023? Drop us a note at