Preparation of questions for a virtual event

Asking polling questions during the presentation is a great way to keep the audience engaged and make it more interactive.

Key rule: Try to ask a complete question that can be answered without reading the options.

General tips

  1. Keep them short: It is much better to ask short questions with a maximum of 4 answers in order to make it possible for the audience to answer fast. You don’t want to lose too much time by waiting for the participants to find the correct answer. It is better to use more time for the explanation afterwards
  2. Make sure to include your questions, possible answers and correct answer in your presentation on separate slides so you can read the question out to the audience before the actual polling starts
  3. It is recommended to incorporate not more than 3-4 polling questions, in order to make it interactive but you don’t want to make it a “question and answer” session
  4. You can also add photos in order to match the correct disease for instance. The pictures need to be shown on a PPT slide with a number or a letter next to it so they can be assigned
  5. Never write trick questions deliberately misleading your audience
  6. It is always a good idea to ask for a second opinion on your Multiple Choice Questions. It is (nearly) impossible to write a perfect MCQ without help of a 2nd reviewer


  1. Avoid…
    •  inaccurate terms like: mostly, generally, frequently, rarely, often, …
      Terms like the majority or comparative terms like ‘more than or less than’ may be more accurate. Define terms as ‘chronic’, ‘long-lasting’ etc.
    • convergency, i.e. repeating part of the correct answer in the distractors (e.g. which colors are shown in a traffic light? A. Red, green, blue B. Red, green, yellow C. Purple, red, green D. Yellow, green, orange. As blue, purple and orange only are used once B apparently must be the right answer.
    • exaggerations like ‘always’ and ‘never’. Statements with these qualifications seldom can be held true in some disciplines.
    • the use of the same (or a related) word in the correct option and the question (e.g. which of the following agents is most likely to cause a community acquired pneumonia? a. Klebsiella, b. Pseudomonas, c. Pneumococcus, Escherichia).
    • NEGATIVE questions: they may be confusing for the participant who is in the setting of answering positive questions and double negations (in both the question and in the answer) may lead to complete misunderstandings.
    • statements containing the word ‘can’ or ‘is possible’. Such statements are mostly correct
  2. If a text is repeated in each option, this text could be added to the lead-in to reduce the text of the separate options. (“Which of the following is the best description of perioperative complications? A perioperative complication is ….”)
  3. Order the options in an alphabetical or a logical way


  1. Be sure the connection between question and each answer is grammatically correct. Do read the question with each option aloud to check whether they fit with each other.
  2. Avoid constructions with ‘all options above are incorrect’ or “correct”.
  3. Each alternative should contain one item, for instance: do not combine 2 treatments in one alternative.
  4. Do not ask for single numbers like a. 35%, b. 55%, c. 75% etc. Such a figure is nearly always incorrect. Rather use intervals that do not overlap: a. 30-39%, b 40-49%, c 50-59%.
  5. One and only one option should be unequivocally correct. Start with writing this correct option before constructing the distractors.
  6. Distractors should be…
    • plausible. The more options are included, the more difficult it will be to find plausible distractors.
    • equivalent. E.g. avoid 4 options with 2 diagnostic proposals and 2 therapeutic ones. Try to describe the options with an equal length and similar level of detail. Beware of the right option being the longest!