How to analyse your survey data

A solid survey can help you measure your event objectives. In the previous blog we explained how to create such a survey in 5 steps. The results of your survey will tell the story of your attendees, a good analysis will help you understand their experience and measure your goals. We focus on the main question types: Open-ended questions, multiple choice and scaled questions.

Prepare your survey data

The survey data can be analysed from your online survey tool. Most survey tools visualise the results in charts and tables. Exporting them to Excel, will enable you to make a more in-depth analysis. Before you can analyse, you need to prepare the survey data:

    • Missing values
      Unfortunately not all respondents finish the survey. Look for empty fields in your data set. If a respondent gave very few answers, delete it. If the most important questions are answered, include the respondent in your analysis. This decision is subjective and differs from case to case.
    • Recoding
      When using the likert scale, your answers will be exported as text as well. Transform these answers to numbers: I strongly agree = 5 / I strongly disagree = 1. TIP: Use the ‘replace all’ function (CTRL+F - or COMMAND+F for Mac users).
    • Grouping
      Some answers can be grouped - for example per workshop session. Collect those answers in order to focus on a specific topic or compare them with other groups. 

When the survey data is prepared, you are ready to run your analysis. Every type of question has different options for the report:

Open-ended question

This type of question results in a big variety of answers. Open questions can lead to surprising results that can be beneficial for your organisation. However, they are more difficult to analyse. There are multiple ways to structure the output:


  • Word Cloud
    Word clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. How to create a word cloud? Just add ‘create word cloud’ in Google. The rest will follow.
  • Individual quotes
    Some quotes are representative for a larger group. Categorise the positive and negative quotes to show what your attendees’ feedback is.
  • Cluster themes
    When you see multiple answers referring to the same theme, cluster them into a group. You might see some interesting trends appear.

Multiple choice questions

This type of question has fixed answers. They are easy to analyse and can quickly be visualised using graphs, tables and charts. Graphs can visualise the data in one overview. A frequency graph → chart? is often used to get a swift overview of the results.

Rating questions

Rating questions are easy to read when they are visualised in graphs. You will see the popularity and averages of the answers. Most survey tools create graphs for you. If not, you can use Excel.

  • Likert scale: recode the export to calculate the averages (see ‘prepare your data’)
  • Rating: shows what’s most/least popular and averages

Net Promoter Score

Last but not least; one of the most powerful indicators is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). This score indicates which attendees are your biggest promoters or critics. You can calculate your NPS using one single question, with a 0-10 scale: How likely is it that you would recommend the event to a friend or colleague? The answers can be divided into three categories:

  • Promoters are those who respond with a score of 9 or 10 and are considered loyal enthusiasts
  • Scores of 7 and 8 are passives: are considered to be neutral
  • Detractors are unhappy customers:those who respond with a score of 0 to 6

Calculating the NPS is easy: Subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters: NPS = % Promotors -/- % Detractors

NPS: Detractors, passives, promotersThe NPS score can range from -100 (100% Detractors) to + 100 (100% Promoters). The answer indicates the overall enthusiasm of your audience. When you zoom in to the NPS score per person, you might find out the aspects that affected the experience. Maybe one detail of the event was of great influence (e.g. no parking space, long waiting lines, great F&B). Try to listen to the story of your attendee by reading the feedback. It takes some effort, but can lead to interesting insights!


The response to your survey can be a real treasure, however, interpreting and analysing the information is key. Prepare your survey data well before analysing: Collect, group and rearrange to reveal the main conclusions of the feedback. Then zoom in on the details. Different types of questions result in different types of information (averages, NPS, open answers). Read the individual feedback to put yourself in the shoes of your attendees - their story will help you achieve your goals.

Do you want higher respons rates at your survey? Keep your survey relevant, short & sweet. 


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