Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Role of Focus Group Moderators

Moderating a focus group is no easy task – it takes a lot of training, preparation and skills practice. Focus group moderators are charged with gathering opinions, feedback and thoughts from people in order to help understand a specific issue or topic. Here are some essentials for leading a successful focus group.

  • Create a comfortable environment. Moderators must create an environment that helps facilitate a conversation among a small group of people, and make them feel confident enough to voice their thoughts.
  • Ensure a good mix of perspectives. Seasoned moderators will confirm that each focus group introduces people with a variety of opinions, perspectives and personalities. There are participants who try to take-over the conversation, others who are extremely shy, some who love to crack jokes and people who talk about everything and anything.
  • Be a jack of all trades. Moderators may have to play a number of roles to keep the conversation flowing in a focused discussion – a behavioral manager, a conversation facilitator, a rapport-builder, and especially, a listener. By juggling these roles during focus groups, moderators can celebrate a number of positive outcomes.

Successful focus groups moderators can glean data to help organizations, associations, and companies understand the perspectives and thoughts of key audiences and help generate hypotheses, find out the “why” and “how,” identify important factors for key outcomes, and shape effective questions for a quantitative survey.

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