I often say, the data from a market research study is only as strong as the questions asked. This sentiment can be equated to a focus group and the moderator of the group discussion. In other words, the success and insight gathered from qualitative research is dependent on who is interviewing or moderating the participants.
Are you new to moderating focus groups or interested in becoming a focus group moderator?Everyone has to start somewhere!
Wondering how to effectively manage focus groups? Here is our insider's guide to managing a focus group.
Looking for tips on how to be a successful focus group moderator? Drive Research, a market research company with a focus group facility, has you covered.
Tip #1: Be familiar with the focus group moderator's guide.
Being familiar with the focus group moderator's guide helps with two important aspects of focus groups. (1) It makes the focus group moderator sound more confident and (2) helps the focus group moderator have a better understanding of pacing.
It is easy to understand why confidence is important. A focus group moderator should be able to effectively lead the conversation.
Pacing a focus group, however, can be tricky. It can be difficult to know which questions participants will want to hang on to. If there are two focus groups with the same moderator's guide, the moderator may notice each group had more to say on different sections. It is important to keep pacing in mind and interject when participants are getting off track or spending too much time on one question.
Tip #2: Set the tone for the conversation.
Many focus group participants have never attended or taken part in this type of market research before. During the initial introduction of the focus group, it is the moderator's responsibility to set the tone and outline the rules or agenda for the focus group.
Our focus group company recommends having an overly energetic and friendly tone when introducing participants to the group discussion. Doing so, participants feel more comfortable, open, and eager to sharing their thoughts.
When discussing the focus group "rules" the moderator should explain everything including the purpose of the focus group, whether the focus group is being recorded, who the sponsor of the focus group is, and any expectations for participants. Typically, participants are encouraged to share their thoughts and whether they agree or disagree with other's opinions in the group discussion.
Tip #3: Give listening cues through body language.
An important skill for a moderator is to talk only as much as needed. Effective focus group moderators use body language to encourage participants to continue to share or re-direct the conversation.
A major benefit of conducting this type of qualitative research is the in-depth feedback collected from a target audience. It is the moderator's job to encourage for discussion around any given topic. For example, if focus group participants are only providing one or two word answers, a moderator should ask for participants to expand on their answer. This could be as simple as asking, "Can you explain why you feel this way?"
Remembering this tip will lead to a better group discussion. The more insight, the better! Additionally, it will also create a more readable, easy to follow transcript from the focus group.
Tip #4: Stuck? Respond with a question.
Some participants like to ask questions during focus groups. Sometimes it is appropriate for the focus group moderator to answer the question, however, typically it is better to follow up with another question.
For example, if a participant asks, "Does this product have features A, B, and C?"
Rather than responding with a yes or no, our focus group firm suggests following up with a question like, "Do you want this product to have features A, B, and C?" The puts the spotlight back on the participant and can often lead to more helpful insight for the sponsor of the focus groups.
Looking for more? Here are 5 helpful tips for a focus group moderator.
Contact Drive Research
Drive Research is a market research company located in Upstate New York. Our market research company has a complete focus group facility in Syracuse, NY. In addition to our facility, our team is well versed in completing each step of the focus group process from start to finish. Here's more on our market research services.
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