Surveying with The King (of Comedy)

All right team, name a popular game show in which surveys are central to its premise. Survey says… Family Feud! That’s right, the game show that dominates most of the Game Show Network’s programing has been collecting and sharing the opinions of thousands of Americans per episode for decades. 

Family Feud has had half a dozen hosts since it began, but the format has remained relatively unchanged. The Feud surveys 100 people with a particular question and then organizes their responses from most popular to least popular.  The more popular an answer is, the more points it is worth. Players are then asked the same question and have to try to name the most popular answers. Curve ball: each team is comprised of a different family. 

There are some good lessons to learn from Family Feud about surveying. The first is knowing your audience. Don’t alienate them by asking questions they will be uncomfortable answering or else you may get skewed answers or no answer at all.

Another lesson you can learn from Family Feud is that your survey probably isn’t as charming as a game show host. Steve Harvey spends an inordinate amount of time chatting with contestants, but he is a professional comedian, and good at what he does. In this video all banter between Harvey and the contestants is edited out and what we’re left with is a tight three minutes. Bymost standards anywhere from three to 10 minutes is a generous amount of time for someone to dedicate to a survey, so be brief!  

How does Family Feud get millions of people to watch a half hour long show about surveys? They have one of the Original Kings of Comedy host it! When Steve Harvey took over for the previous host, it led to one of the most significant ratings boosts in recent daytime programing history. He clinched a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Game Show Host in 2014. The people have spoken, and they like Harvey. So what does this mean for your surveys? You can’t digitally insert Steve Harvey’s personality into your surveys, but you can put some personality in your surveys. People like to be engaged with in a fun way. Rather than having participants trudge through another bland survey—liven it up a bit! Personally, I always love a gag question/answer i.e.

How well could you hear our keynote speaker?

  1. Not at all
  2. Somewhat
  3. Perfectly clear
  4. Turn it up to 11!

Getting someone to smile can be the best defense against an abandoned survey. It’s important to be mindful of your audience’s sensibility. Make sure you don’t run into the situation that Steve ran into with that Seven Dwarves question. How do you find your audience’s sensibility? Survey says… survey! If you need any help with creating a more effective survey program at your organization, we’re more than happy to lend a hand. Check out our eBook “Crimes in Survey Design” for some more pointers on good survey design.

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