Thursday, September 16, 2021

Four ways to use polls to make your meetings more engaging

In the past 18 months, organizations around the world have had to transition to virtual education and training. For educators and company employees alike, this remote learning comes with challenges. That’s why the Microsoft Forms team was excited to release Polls in Microsoft Teams meetings in November 2020 to address some of these challenges. This feature enables meeting organizers to engage and educate their attendees effectively using polls.


Since then, we have investigated how you can better leverage Polls in Teams meetings, having heard your questions like, “how can I keep my attendees engaged?” or “how effectively are they absorbing the information presented?” Even as we transition to the hybrid work environment, these questions remain ever relevant.


Today, we want to share tips on using polls for medium to large-sized Teams meetings intended to educate your participants. We hope that these suggestions, which are based on our collaboration with researchers, can help you confidently run virtual meetings that are engaging and effective for your participants.



GOAL: Engage your audience early.

TASK: Poll attendees at the beginning of your meeting to reduce psychological distance and set expectations.


Especially during a time when physical proximity can’t be achieved, it’s important to bring your attendees closer together psychologically. Based on participant changing theory, we understand that how someone feels in a group can affect their attitude to the learning and collaboration at hand.

How can we help attendees feel included in the meeting?

1. Ask a multiple-choice icebreaker question, like “How are you feeling today?” or “What part of the company are you from?” Today, Polls in Teams meetings often automatically suggests such questions as you prepare for your polls (see "Poll suggestions" below).


Suggestions for polls in the meeting tab before any polls are createdSuggestions for polls in the meeting tab before any polls are createdSuggestion for polls after you click “Create New Poll.”Suggestion for polls after you click “Create New Poll.”


2. Collect questions they have for the class or training, like “what questions do you have before we get started?” With our upcoming Word Cloud poll (public roll out to begin approximately end of September/early October), you can ask for such open-ended responses.


Creating a Word Cloud pollCreating a Word Cloud pollShowing results of Word Cloud pollShowing results of Word Cloud poll


3. Ask a multiple-choice knowledge check question related to the upcoming information you plan to present.


4. Setting expectations at the start of the meeting can also encourage engagement. Based on expectancy theory, we understand that determining your goals and expectations can generate personal motivation. Thus, you could ask via Word Cloud poll a question like, “What do you expect to learn today?”



GOAL: Help your audience reset and re-focus.

TASK: Poll attendees during your meeting to recapture wandering attention.


While using our computers, we can easily get distracted or lose focus. Studies have shown that adults’ attention spans last around 20-30 minutes. Therefore, long class or training sessions could lead attendees to drop their concentration.


To help them regain their focus, you can use polls to:

  1. Ask a fun question, allowing them to reset.
  2. Check the status of your learners (“Regarding the material we just covered, how do you feel about your current level of understanding?”)



GOAL: Evaluate audience understanding of meeting content and encourage engagement.

TASK: Poll attendees during the meeting for a quick knowledge check.


During this meeting, keep in the mind the value of instant feedback. Because immediate evaluation can enhance one’s sense of order and state of concentration, you can launch a quick knowledge-check poll based on information you just presented to encourage attendees to stay engaged in the content. With Polls in Teams meetings, you can use our Multiple Choice Quiz poll to do so.


Multiple Choice Quiz pollMultiple Choice Quiz poll


Even with a simple “True or False?” question, quizzing your attendees can increase awareness of their understanding of the material. This self-awareness and self-monitoring help them stayed engaged with learning as well.


(4) GOAL: Provide your audience with a sense of belonging and encourage future engagement

TASK: At the end of your meeting, poll attendees by asking for honest feedback.


Like our goal to reduce psychological distance at the start of the meeting, we hope to create a sense of belonging at the end of the meeting, too. By asking attendees for their opinion at the end of the meeting, we signal how we want to include their perspectives. This sense of belonging can encourage their contribution and engagement in the future.  


For example, you can use Multiple Choice Polls to ask questions like, “On a scale of 1-5, how useful did you find the information presented?” or “On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied are you with the quality of the instructor?” You can also use Word Cloud polls to ask something like “What questions do you still have that were not addressed?” to allow them the opportunity to share their thoughts directly.


Next steps

We hope that these four tips provided guidance on how you can take advantage of polls whenever you are educating others in a virtual Teams meeting. To learn more about how use the Forms-powered Polls in Teams meeting feature, please visit our Support page.



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