Preparing to moderate a focus group discussion? In order to do it well it takes some preparation, practice, and experience. Facilitating or moderating a focus group is a bit of an art. It involves organization, people management, verbal cues, and many other group dynamic skills.
In this post we discuss 4 basic tips to help you facilitate a focus group discussion as a moderator. These tips are practical but will help you better prepare for your next discussion.
Here are 4 tips to help moderate your next focus group discussion.
Tip 1: Ask for Clarification
When moderating a focus group, always keep the transcript and the client top-of-mind. This seems like an odd tip but a purposeful one. Context is everything in a conversation. If a client reads a transcript or a comment in a report without context they may not fully understand the sentiment. Was the participant satisfied or unsatisfied?
As you facilitate the discussion and comments come up, make sure you clarify meaning. Ask things like: "What do you mean by that?" "Is that good or bad?" This helps add context to the conversation and in writing to clear up any confusion as part of analysis or review.
Tip 2: Continually Ask Why
The point of qualitative market research is to dive deep and explore. This is largely unlike a survey or quantitative research where the goal there is to measure and cast a wide net. If you are not asking why (a lot) in a focus group you are not digging deep enough.
Virtually all yes-no questions, rating scales, and other categories should be followed with an immediate "why or why not?" This challenges participants to really think about why they responded yes or no, or offered a rating of a "5" instead of a "3".
Tip 3: Take Control
As the lead moderator or facilitator remember you are always in control of the discussion. You guide the group on what to do. Who should talk. When to move onto the next section. When to ask for more details. When to move from one participant to another for feedback.
You should make this clear early in your discussion guide and exude the confidence that you are in charge. Focus groups can get a bit unruly and talkative at times but it is up to you wrangle the troops back on topic. Continually.
Tip 4: Call On Specific People
Some of your focus group participants will be more talkative than others. It is your job as the moderator to hear from all of them. Throughout the discussion you can single out and call on specific people to ask for feedback. This ensures you hear from everyone in the group.
It is difficult to remember names of participants especially if you have multiple groups of 10 to 12 people. It is handy to write a seating chart or use name tents for the groups. This makes it easy for you as a moderator to call on someone by name.
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