7 Do an ice-breaking exercise
A lot of people will likely be shy to speak up. That’s why it’s your responsibility to create a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere.
You can do so by doing an ice-breaking exercise.
Example: ask people about their lives. Where have they been travelling on holidays last time? Do they have any pets? What’s their favorite meal?
Alternatively, you can offer free drinks & snacks. We heard that helps!
8 Lead the discussion.
When moderating the focus group session, don’t forget that you’re the conversation leader. Here are some things you should take into account:
- Don’t let one person speak for too long, keep it consistent
- Encourage people to share their opinions freely, even if they’re shy
- Keep in mind the structure/ question list you’ve made before the focus group. Don’t switch topics too often or too quickly. Nevertheless, you want to change the subject as soon as it’s saturated (no one has anything to add).
9 Ask open questions
Compare these 2 dialogs:
Example 1: Do you like product X?
Example 2: Which features of product X are particularly important to you and why?
Open questions (such as the one in Example 2) will help you to obtain richer insights.
Avoid asking “yes or no” questions, because the only answer you’ll ever hear is either “yes” or “no”!
10 Different opinions should be encouraged
Focus group is a discussion. You’re not trying to reach consensus or find a point that everyone would agree on.
On the contrary, you want to observe the contrast in people’s opinions.
Even if all of your participants have different viewpoints – don’t make an argument out of it, simply accept it and try to understand what makes them think this way.
11 Approach focus groups with creativity
If you want, you can come up with different ideas on how to engage people, instead of asking them direct questions.
For instance, you could:
- Ask participants to draw an image that pops up in their mind when they think about your brand
- Play an associative game. You tell them words – they have to tell you their associations
You can think of any creative tasks that would engage your participants and generate interesting insights for you.
12 Keep the length of the meeting around 1-2 hours
Try not to tire your participants. After an hour or two, we all get tired and are no longer willing to give saturated answers.
13 Record everything
For a focus group, recording is a “must”.
You want to be able to come back and look at every individual answer.
Moreover, you’ll likely have to report your findings.
You’ll also be surprised at the amount of details you get when you record a discussion. Tone of voice is one of them.
P.s – don’t forget to inform participants that you’re recording their answers.
P.s.s – we personally recommend to only record audio. Having a video camera may be interrogating for a lot of people and will most likely lead to short, shy (sometimes even dishonest) responses.
If there are details, such as body language that you want to be documented – ask your assistant to take notes on the way.