Questionnaire concept: Write the questions for the participant

A little bit of writing in style

Everybody can write a few lines. Well, actually we do that every day. In fact, the amount we write is increasing with technology. There are messages, comments, reports and email. They all have one thing in common. The better they are, the more they help you on the road to success. 

A few little tips and tricks might help you to write good questions. The kind of questions being easily comprehensive to the reader, your participant. 

Before we start writing, let us talk about reading. Have you ever thought of how we read?

Most people got it wrong when guessing the first time. It is a common myth that we would decode texts letter by letter. Our eyes just don’t work like that.

Fast readers rarely decode single letters. Their eyes move around the lines and decodes words like pictures. Actually, only some of the combinations of words will be tracked. 

The more you simplify this process for the reader, the easier participation will become. 

Skizze Augenbewegung

When you adjust your text flow to the reader’s eyes, they become easy.

Here are a few rules for good texts:

1. No anaconda-word-constructions

‚We would like to lead you through our customer-satisfaction-analysis-survey.‘ Well, the snake is in the text, stopping you on the way through. There would be better options to let the reader know the same. This one works without such complicated constructions: ‚We care about the satisfaction of our customers.‘


2. Make the monsters look smaller

Sometimes you can’t avoid complicated terms. Customer-satisfaction might be the term you need. Just make it look smaller in a short sentence. Now it is just one long word. In a longer sentence it might grow until it bites. 

3.Borrowed words

Well, in English we don’t have as many borrowed words as some other languages, especially in continental Europe. Still there can be a tendency for the use of complicated borrowed words, which can confuse easily. Those words are hard to recognize within a second. They stop the flow and need thinking. Try to avoid these strangers in the text, whenever you can. 

4.Avoid negative expressions or implications

‚Don’t you agree, that our order process could be improved?‘ Well, if you already give half the answer, do you really expect the customer to disagree? In fact, you might even imply that he overlooked some dysfunctional process steps. Suddenly a customer might even think: ‚Well, three days for a delivery from coast to coast was really slow.‘ And this thought was created by your question.

Stay neutral and keep it analytic: ‚Which part of our order process might be improvable?‘ 

5.Nail it with a sentence

Avoid long sentences. Trying to write the perfect question might lead you to a four-line monster. There is no perfect question with all information in one single sentence. Keep it short and easy.

You might need an introductory sentence. Fine, then you have the question starting behind it. 

Just in case the question is so complicated, you need many sentences. Think again. Such questions hardly work. Of course there is always an exception to the rule. Scenarios or future technologies need a description. 

6.Communicate on the same level

Don’t command or be patronizing. This ain’t no military base. We are on the web and people have a choice. Communicate on the same level. 

7.Avoid corporate terms or phrases

Just remember, the participant can’t ask you, what was meant. Every ‚I don’t get it‘-moment  is a leaver.

Corporate terms and phrases confuse readers on the outside. Just think of an outsider. If they would understand the expression, you are on the way. 

Just imagine you are on the other side. Would you participate? 

The usual exception to the rule enters the field as soon as your survey is strictly internal. Your colleagues will know corporate terms, except the freshmen. Remember your target group, even for internal ones. 

Be precise when questioning (5/12)

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