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What Are the Best Tips for Focus Group Facilitation?

Jim B.
Jim B.

Focus group facilitation is critical to the functioning of the any focus group, which is generally a group of people randomly gathered by a company or business for the purpose of gaining information either about a current product or service or a future initiative. The facilitator is often responsible for developing the script of questions that will be asked of the group. Successful focus group facilitation at the time of the meeting requires the ability to get information without forcing responses or leading members into answers. Facilitators must keep up a solid pace to alleviate time constraints, and must make sure all group members feel comfortable enough to let their opinions be heard.

In the modern business world, getting feedback from customers is paramount to continued success. Without knowing the needs and wants of customers, companies cannot possibly develop their products and services accordingly. One of the most proven methods used for many years is the focus group, a gathering of people who are assembled to answer predetermined questions. Focus group facilitation is an important part of this process, one that can go a long way toward getting the answers that a company seeks.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

In many cases, focus group facilitation begins with compiling the questions that will be asked of the group. This is an important step in the process, one which can make the difference between useful answers and useless information. Questions should be clear and concise, and they should be phrased in a way so that the answers are illuminating and detailed.

Another key part of focus group facilitation is setting the tone in the room once the group arrives. The facilitator should be cordial to all group members and create a welcome feeling. He or she should also be mindful of the tempo of the questioning, knowing that the group likely only has a short time to convene. It is also important to try to steer combative group members into constructive criticism, while also drawing out quieter members.

Many of the necessities for good focus group facilitation seem simple enough but may be hard to accomplish under the circumstances. Facilitators must be good listeners, but they also have to keep in the back of their minds the answers they may not have heard. They also have to try to get the group to answer questions without actually leading them toward an answer that might not actually be in the mind of a particular member. A facilitator also may be in charge of arranging and assessing the focus group’s answers at the completion of the meeting.

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