When considering how to phrase your video research questions, your focus will be on how to garner the richest responses. You will want to return data you can use to quantify your research, but you'll also want to substantiate that data with the reasoning behind the claims. The quantitative data gives you the facts and figures, but it's the qualitative data which will supply you with the real substance of your research: the why and the how.

1) First thing's first

Before you ask your respondents anything, ensure they know you are really listening and their answers are vital to your research. If your respondents understand you're interested in them, they are likely to open up and speak more freely. So, take your time to explain the purpose of the survey and why your respondents are important to you.

When you start recording your video survey, remember to ask your questions slowly and leave plenty of pauses. There is no rush. If you speak slowly, you will encourage your respondents to think carefully about their answer while they’re watching your video. And the more considered the responses, the richer they’ll be.

2) Open-ended questions

An open-ended question is simply one which inspires your respondent to think. And you can provoke thinking purely by altering your phrasing.

Open-ended questions can be answered with both facts and opinions, whereas a closed question can only be answered with facts.

Ironically, when trying to discover the why and the how, you should avoid starting your questions with Why? and How?

While the concepts are good starting points, the phrasing may take you in a different direction. To start your questions with these very specific words may limit the responses you get and generate short-form, specific answers. The best questions are the ones that allow your respondent to talk freely and will be phrased in a slightly ambiguous way.

Instead of Why? and How? Try some of the following question starters:

  • For what reasons...
  • In what ways...
  • Describe in detail...
  • Explain in detail...
  • Make a list of...
  • What would be the most effective ways to...

The best thing about asking open-ended questions is each answer you receive will be different. There is no right or wrong answer to an open-ended question, only a combination of facts and opinions.

3) Open-ended and closed questions together

One of the most efficient ways of capturing rich responses is by purposefully posing both 'open-ended' questions and 'closed' questions together.

Open-ended questions encourage your respondents to answer in more detail and often illicit emotional responses instead of purely factual ones. Whereas a closed-ended questions can often require a 'yes' or 'no' answer, or a fact.

While open-ended questions will naturally elicit a richer response, it can be hard to wade through the information you will inevitably return. If you pose closed questions first, you'll return some information you can work with.

To produce helpful responses from your video research, you need to know how many people feel a certain way about a particular topic and you also need to know the reasons behind these thoughts.

In your video market research, it can be helpful to ask a closed question first and then follow it with an open-ended question:

Q: Do you think video games encourage laziness in children?

A: Yes/ No/ I don't know

Q: For what reasons do you think that?

4) Keep it simple

You should choose a few simple questions that allow your respondents plenty of room for self-analysis and considered responses.

It's wise to avoid introducing too many different ideas within the same question. While it is perfectly reasonable to garner complex and textured responses, if you ask about several ideas within the same sentence, you will confuse your respondents, as well as their answers.

Instead of asking a convoluted question, for example:

'Describe in detail which functions of our product you like the most and for what reasons you think someone might recommend it?'

Break it down into its constituent concepts and ask separate questions:

'Describe in detail which functions of our product you like the most'


'For what reasons you think someone might recommend our product?'

These are both open questions, but if you layer too many together in the same sentence, your responses will be difficult to decipher in any meaningful way.

5) Give enough detail

When formulating your survey questions, you need to frame your questions with plenty of context.

You can use rhetoric like open questions and singular subject sentences, but if you don't give enough context to your questions, phrasing will count for little. Striking the balance between context and waffle, however, can be tricky.

Try starting your video survey with easy questions, to loosen your respondent into honest answers. You could ask some closed questions in written format to set the scene before you launch into your video survey to ask your open questions.

When you shoot your video, always provide enough details for your respondents to understand your questions fully, but avoid industry jargon and don't take too much time to explain unnecessary information as your respondents could lose interest.

6) Remain balanced

These five key tips should form the backbone of your video research questions.

But above all, remaining balanced and unbiased is by far the most important tip. If you phrase your questions so you unintentionally influence your respondents' answers, the whole point of your survey is lost.

You should avoid emotionally biased vocabulary and remain as neutral as possible throughout your question/s to ensure the responses you return are as helpful as possible.

As well as your vocabulary, you should be aware of your facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. Because, while your script may remain unbiased, your face may give away secrets not disclosed in your words.