There is a reason most of us scan webpages for bold words or bullet points instead of reading a big wall of words. We want to find the most relevant information, and we want to find it fast!
Being efficient and selective with your question wording will help your respondent’s comprehension and keep their interest– which leads to better and more accurate data. Especially on mobile!
Here are 3 helpful tips to tighten-up your questions:
Long sentences are problematic and often make it difficult for respondents to process what you want to say. It’s helpful to take one long sentence and break it into two. This will create a flow and make your survey easier to digest.
For example, let’s take long sentence like:
Selecting food for your pet can be challenging since so many brands claim to have great ingredients on the front of their package, but not all brands are alike.
Whew! Sentences like this can make you feel like you are out of breath. They can also make your respondents tired and less likely to fully engage as your survey moves on.
It’s better to break them into smaller parts, like:
Selecting food for your pet can be challenging. Many brands claim to have great ingredients on the front of their package, but not all brands are alike.
Much better! If your sentences are focused, your respondents will remain focused too.
Everyone loves a fluffy pillow–but a fluffy survey? Not so much. Time is valuable, and you shouldn’t take too much of your respondents time with filler words.
Common examples of fluff in surveys are qualifiers such as “In your opinion” at the start of a question. Understandably, there are times when qualifiers are necessary. However, eliminating words that are implied can help you lessen your word count.
For example, let’s look at a wordy sentence:
In the event that you leave your house, who watches over your pet?
While this sentence asks the right question, it doesn’t do it in the most efficient way. If you have an issue with wordy sentences, a great way to fix it is to speak your questions out loud. Does it sound strange? Is it how you would ask a friend or co-worker the same question in conversation? Most of the time we can cut the fluff!
Using this tactic, our wordy sentence becomes:
Who watches your pet when you aren’t home?
Just don’t let your boss hear you talking to yourself, they might think you’re crazy.
Avoid any needless repetition within your sentences, which are extra words that repeat in your sentences (see what I did there?). These can be frustrating and time wasting, but easy to fix.
For example, this sentence has a few redundant words:
Advanced planning is absolutely essential when researching an animal sitter for your pet.
The words ‘advanced’, ‘absolutely’, and ‘animal’ are unnecessary. While they may add emphasis you believe to be important, direct language is almost always more effective. You can trust your respondents!
A good tactic for fixing this is to re-read your sentences and see if they would make sense with less redundancy.
Try something like this instead:
Planning is essential when researching a pet sitter.
This change still gets the point across, but is much easier to digest.
You should also check for redundancies in your overall survey. When possible, combining or eliminating redundant questions will keep your respondents from getting frustrated and losing interest.
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