What skills should a focus group moderator have?

The skills of a focus group moderator are extremely important to getting valuable, unbiased data from your existing and potential customers.

There is much more to moderating a focus group than simply asking questions here are the skills that we feel an effective moderator should possess, in order to get the most out of your research.

  1. Effective Listening Skills – They must be able to asserting themselves, but also know the importance of letting the group express their opinions and feelings. Their role is to guide the group through the questions.
  2. Flexibility – The nature of a focus group means that members will often deviate from the main question or topic, often providing further insight. It is therefore important for the moderator to have a flexible attitude.
  3. Include a Variety of Exercises –Maintaining interest and enthusiastic engagement among the participants is key to a successful focus group. You could use: role-playing, word association and ratings.
  4. Pause and Probe – The group moderator will be skilled in asking clear questions and pausing to give the group members opportunity to open up.
  5. Have Knowledge of the Topic– basic information on the subject helps in probing areas for more in-depth discussion; demonstrate a degree of naïveté.
  6. Be Enthusiastic and Attentive– have a high energy level; pay attention to participants- recognise group dynamics.
  7. Understands Group Dynamics – The moderator needs to understand how groups work, is relatable and know how to help groups of people to fully interact, they can get the group to  feel like they are educating them.
  8. A little more conversation – A good group moderator will create conversation, adapting the flow of the conversation depending on where it takes them.  A moderator’s job is to encourage discussion.

The role of a focus group moderator can be a challenge, after all you are dealing with many different characters, but it is also a rewarding one as you are contributing to the development of a business or product.

For more information on the focus group services we offer here at Fingertips Typing email: info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

Getting The Most From A Focus Group

Focus groups are a great way of learning new things; they are exploratory and qualitative in nature, which is a lot more reliable than a lucky guess!

The insights that you can find about your business during a focus group exercise can drive it forward because your customers and prospective customers will tell you what they want or need. Plus, people love it when you ask their opinion!

Done well, a focus group can strengthen your relationship with customers.

Here are our Top Five Tips:

  1. Have clear objectives – If you don’t know the question, you can’t find the answer. Try to make sure that your objective is not to broad and know how you are going to use the information.
  2. Define who you really want to talk to and learn from – Do you want to break into a new market or understand your competitors?
  3. Keep an open mind – Don’t have any predetermined expectations, if you have already made up your mind and there is nothing that can make you change your mind. Use your focus group moderator who will encourage participants to answer openly and honestly.
  4. Be prepared to not like all the answers – You might not like the answers you get, but remember this feedback (even negative) is good for you and your business as you now have the opportunity to make important changes.
  5. Don’t take it personally – You may think that you have a great new product idea, but keep an open mind, it may not resonate with your customers, the focus group will help you hone in on what your customers really want.

You’re not a mind reader; focus groups will help you understand your customers and business better, after all your customers’ needs are constantly evolving. We would also recommend using surveys, telephone interviews and market research to further enhance your data ensuring that you are listening to wide range of different customers.

Fingertips Typing Services offers help with focus groups, for more information on our service email: info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

Getting the most from focus groups

Focus groups are a straightforward way for organisations to research new projects or understand the needs of the customer.

They have proved to be a highly insightful, bringing together a group to discuss a topic providing a more natural setting than one-to-one interviews. They are also a great place to allow participants to share their stories This qualitative research method can generate rich data in a less resource intensive manner.

Our tips on running a successful focus group

  1.  Keep the group size small – The ideal group size for focus groups is about 7 or 8 people. Any more than that and people start relating to each other collectively instead of individually.
  2. Use a good moderator – Focus group moderating looks easy but he truth is that getting the discussion going is just the tip of the iceberg. A good moderator will: keep them on the subject, keep the discussion moving, bring out the people who are not participating, bring people back to the subject when they stray.
  3. Introductions Get the group members to introduce themselves, where they are from, what they do, an ice breaker activity would be ideal as it will help the transcriber differentiate people. This will make transcription easier as differentiating a group of voices when you do not know the speakers can be tough
  4. Microphone –  Position in the middle of the participants to pick up all sounds and place the microphone on a stand as it naturalises the recording. If your group is sitting around a table and the microphone is on it then put a cloth under it to muffle interference caused by accidental table movement
  5. Preparing your recording environment – Check that the sound from microphone moves in all directions. Remember: hard surfaces reflect sound and can cause delay or echoes and soft furnishings can absorb or muffle sound. If you choose a big room, then the session should be done in the corner of that room to reduce the effect of reverberation and echo
  6. Playback your test recording – Listen out for background noise, outside intrusions such as traffic, ambient noise in the room and your participants moving or eating
  7. Backup immediately – As soon as you can get it onto your computer, laptop or in the cloud. Make sure a copy is in another location, because all the time it exists only on your recording device it can be lost, stolen, damaged or tampered with losing your data forever!

Remember, the quality of your audio recordings will impact the quality of your transcription, so ensure that you get the recording right and follow our tips.