Live Polling vs. Surveys: What to Use & When


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Collecting feedback, input, and opinions from customers, team members, audiences, and other groups will always be valuable. Today, there are more options than ever for collecting this data, including live polling and surveys. The problem is, many organizations aren’t sure which of these two options is the right one for them! But you’re about to find out. In today’s post, we’ll cover the differences between live polling versus surveys, as well as which option to use when.

Let’s begin by going over exactly what each of these terms mean.

What is Live Polling?

Live polling is a way of collecting instant data from an audience or group when they’re in your presence (virtual or in-person). For example, you might run a live poll during a conference to collect feedback from the audience. The word “live” is a great way to remember what this term means: live polling is used with live audiences!

As a presenter or poll creator, you have the power to control when your audience sees these questions, including showing them just one at a time. Polls can consist of a single question or several.

What is a Survey?

On the other hand, a survey is more of an offline option. Audiences or groups don’t need to complete surveys on an urgent timeline. Instead, you can distribute a survey for respondents to complete at their leisure.

Respondents typically have access to the entire survey at once, rather than relying on the presenter to control when they see each question.

Surveys typically include several questions.

What are their differences?

These definitions highlight the differences between live polling and surveys, but let’s go over them in greater detail.

Live Polling:

  • Used in live environments
  • Collects instant, live feedback
  • Presenters can choose the pace at which questions are asked
  • May include just a single question (or more)


  • Used in offline environments
  • Participants can choose the pace at which they complete the questions
  • Surveys do not need to be completed within any specific time frame
  • Typically include multiple questions

What are their similarities?

Of course, there are also several things these two options have in common. For example, live polling and surveys can both use multiple choice questions, Likert scale survey questions, ranking questions, and other question types. 

Similarly, they are both a way of collecting feedback and data from a specific group. Depending on what kind of data you need to collect and when, as well as the purpose of this data, both options could be right for you. 

When to use live polling vs. surveys

On that note, let’s dig into when to use live polling versus when it’s better to stick to a survey.

Here are some events or circumstances where a live poll makes more sense than a survey:

  • Conferences
  • Events
  • Meetings
  • Testing or polling students in the classroom

Alternatively, surveys might make more sense in these circumstances:

  • Collecting customer feedback
  • Hearing from students 
  • When you include a survey link in an email
  • Embedding it into a website

Create Live Polls and Surveys with Swift Polling

Now that we’ve covered all of those bases, let’s talk about how to create and distribute live polls and surveys with an audience or group.

Create a poll

When you first log in to Swift Polling, you’ll see an empty questions list. You can create a new question by clicking the “Create your first poll” button in the center or “Create poll” on the left-hand side.

You will see a tab with three question types to choose from:

  1. Multiple choice (poll)
  2. Open-ended (for Q&A sessions and many more)
  3. Word cloud (relative popularity of responses among the audience)

Select one of the question types and proceed to create your question.

Once you are done, click the “Launch” button or “Save & New Poll”.

Now your audience can start participating!

Create a survey

As for surveys, here’s how to create them with Swift.

First, note that to create a survey you’ll need at least two polls created. (To link two questions to each other in a survey, please select the one which will go first and click “Edit”) You can also connect a poll that you are just creating to another poll the same way.

Next, you will:

  1. Ensure the Web feature is enabled for your poll.
  2. In the poll editing screen select the Web and click Advanced Options.
  3. After opening the Advanced Options, scroll down until you see the “Link Poll” section and click the yellow “Link Poll” button.
  • Next, you’ll see a pop-up window with all of the linking options available, as below.
  • To connect your poll to another poll, select the next poll from the “Next Poll” drop-down area and add a button label. That label is for the button which takes you to the next poll.
  • After you set up your next poll, click “Save Links” and then launch or save your poll.
  • As a result, once someone votes in your poll they will see the button in the results screen, and by tapping it the voter will go to the next poll.
  • Keep in mind, if the results are disabled for your poll, the voters will be taken to the next one immediately upon voting. 

You are ready to create your first poll or survey! Get started today. 



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