6 creative ideas for open response polling

One question we get all the time is, ‘What can I do with open response polling?’ Open response polls let users type out their own responses to questions – think Mad Libs in polling form. This style is ideal for brainstorming (‘How can we reduce turnover?’) or tackling complicated concepts (‘Describe happiness, in a word’).

But these examples are just the beginning. We’ve pulled together an unusual collection of open response polling ideas from actual Poll Everywhere users, as well as our overactive imaginations. Whether you’re driving discussion in the boardroom, or the classroom, these polling prompts will help you get more out of your audience.


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Get to know your audience

Any reporter worth their salt knows the four W’s (and one ‘H’). These simple questions are the backbone of any investigation, and are also a great way for you to better know your audience. Pepper in a few of these before or after your next presentation:

WHAT questions do you want me to address?
WHEN is the best time to have this meeting?
WHERE should we go for lunch today?
WHY do you like this conference?
HOW will you spend your weekend?

Respond to your audience’s top questions

Presentations usually end with “any questions?” We say, “Why wait?” Let your audience ask questions during your presentation using a Q&A poll. This polling type displays questions in a list that updates in real time as your audience responds.

Our moderation tools help ensure some joker won’t drive the discussion into a ditch. As more responses pour in, audience members can vote on their favorites and help push those to the top. Therefore, as the presenter, you’ll know what your audience thinks is most important.

Here’s what can happen during an audience Q&A free-for-all.

Involve more people than you thought possible

Even the most capable speakers can only engage so many people at a time. This is fine if you’re speaking to, say, 10 people – but what if you’re trying to get feedback from 10,000? Your audience would mutiny before you made it past the double-digits.

With Poll Everywhere, you can field responses from a far larger group of people than you could otherwise – so think BIG. Word cloud and text wall polls are great for displaying large volumes of information, while Q&A polls let audience members upvote the best responses.

Learn how you can engage an entire stadium full of people.

Use Word Clouds for extra impact


Word clouds are dynamic, dancing images you and your audience create together via polling. They update in real time, adding extra size (and emphasis) to words that receive duplicate entries. And take it from us, seeing the cloud come to life really gets an audience excited.

Get more ideas on how to make the most out of a word cloud poll.

Solicit anonymous feedback on sensitive subjects…

We all have topics we’d rather not discuss in… polite company. By setting poll responses to ‘anonymous’ you ensure your respondents’ privacy and save all involved from unnecessary embarrassment. This frees up everyone to dive into the issues and tackle subjects as a group they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

  • What would you like to know about sex?
  • How much money do you make each year?
  • When is lying morally justifiable?
  • What awaits us after death?

Here’s how a Kansas youth pastor used anonymous polling to discuss sex and dating.

…or help someone overcome shyness during discussions

Even when they’re not dealing with sensitive topics, some people still feel too shy to contribute to a larger conversation. They could be uncomfortable verbalizing in a second language, or are simply feeling lost in an unfamiliar setting or group.

Whatever the reason, anonymity can help by letting everyone to contribute without having to put someone in the spotlight. You never know where the next incredible idea will come from, so make sure you’re listening to the entire group – and not just the most vocal.

Just how anonymous is anonymous polling? We’ll let our engineer explain.

Sign up for a free account and get creative

If any of these ideas inspired you, sign up and start experimenting today. You can stay on the free account as long as you like – and can upgrade whenever you’re ready. Poll Everywhere’s open response polls and anonymity options are available right out of the gate – so get out there and start polling!

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