Teaching Resources

Zoom’s Built-in Polling

Resource Overview

Step-by-step instructions for using Zoom's built-in polling

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Rick Moore

Assistant Director of Assessment and Evaluation

(314) 935-9171


Zoom includes a built-in polling option that you can use to create and run simple polls during your class. This page explains how to set up Zoom polls in your meetings and compares Zoom polls to Poll Everywhere. For general tips on best pedagogical practices when teaching with polls, check out the resources listed under “Supporting Material.”

Creating a Poll

  1. Schedule a future Zoom meeting in the Zoom app or in Canvas. Note: polls are only available for meetings scheduled in advance. If you open a meeting directly from the Zoom app by clicking “New Meeting” you will not have access to the polling option.
  2. Go to https://wustl.zoom.us/ and select “Sign-in”
  3. IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST POLL: Double check the polling feature is enabled for your account. On the left side of the screen select “Settings,” then scroll down the page until you find the “Polling” option. Make sure feature is turned on (will be blue, not grayed out) and turn it on if it needed. You should not have to perform this step again when you create polls in the future.
  4. On the left, select “Meetings.” Click on the name of the meeting you’d like to create a poll for to edit the meeting and add the poll.
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page to the “Poll” section. Click “Add” to add a poll to the meeting.
  6. A window will pop up where you can add questions to the poll
    1. Select “Anonymous” if you do not want names to be connected to poll results in result downloads.
    2. Single Choice = respondents can only answer ONE item; Multiple Choice = respondents can select more than one answer.
    3. After you have added all your questions, CLICK SAVE. Sometimes the “save” button is hidden and needs to be scrolled down to, but if you do no click it your poll will not be created.

Note: It is also possible to import polls into Zoom from an .csv file, but only via the Canvas interface. To do so, go to your meeting in Canvas and scroll down to the bottom of the screen. There will be a link to download a template to write questions. After you have written your questions in the format the template requires, you can upload the .csv file using the “Import CSV” button to create your polls. This guide from PennState outlines these steps in detail.

Running a Poll in Class

Hosts, co-hosts & alternate hosts can start Zoom polls. Only the original host, however, can create or edit polls during a meeting. Poll creation & editing privileges DO NOT transfer when you transfer the host role.

  1. Click on the “Polls” button in the meeting controls
  2. Select the poll you wish to open and click “Launch Polling”
    1. You will see live results as they come in, how many attendees have responded to the poll, and a timer of how long the poll has been open
  3. When you’re ready to close the poll, click “End Polling.” Allow students time to respond to questions and communicate with them when you will be closing the poll. People usually need at least 30-60 seconds to answer even a basic opinion question. Make sure that you tell them how long they will have and give a 10 second warning before closing the poll.
  4. If you want to show the results of the poll to the class, click “Share Results.”

Downloading Poll Results

  1. Go to https://wustl.zoom.us/ and select “Sign-in”
  2. On the left-hand side, click “Reports”
  3. Under “Usage Reports,” select “Meeting”
  4. You will see a list of your Zoom meetings. Select “Poll Report,” and also select the date range where you want to see the poll reports from. Next, click on “Search.”
  5. Click on “Generate.” Note you may click on any “Generate” you see on the page. You will actually select the report you want later.
  6. The next screen shows meetings and links to download poll reports. If you only want to see the Zoom meetings that actually used polling, make sure “Include reports that failed to generate results” IS NOT selected
  7. Click download to download a .csv file with the polling results for that meeting. A .csv file can be opened by Microsoft Excel.

Other Tips

  • Create a “blank poll”: To make polling on the fly easier, create a blank poll with generic answers “A,” “B,” “C,” etc. Then simply tell the course your question, write it in the chat or on the Zoom whiteboard. You can add this poll to a recurring meeting or to a meeting template.

Zoom polls vs Poll Everywhere

At WashU the two main polling options are the Zoom built-in polls and Poll Everywhere. Both methods have advantages and challenges.

  • Zoom polling:
    • Strengths: Integrated into Zoom; Basic, but works.
    • Weaknesses: Awkward interface for creating and downloading polls; No way for in-person & remote students to participate together; Only multiple-choice questions and no integrated images.
  • Poll Everywhere:
    • Strengths: Many question types and integrated images; Allows in-person & remote students to participate together in a live poll; Very flexible.
    • Weaknesses: Need to learn another software; Slightly more complicated to use within a Zoom meeting; Students must answer the poll outside of Zoom
  • Summary: Zoom is good for occasional polling if you don’t need many features. Poll Everywhere may work better for frequent polling, if you want more options and if you have many remote students.

Have suggestions?

If you have suggestions of resources we might add to these pages, please contact us:

ctl@wustl.edu(314) 935-6810Mon - Fri, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.