Having not being involved in Focus groups for some time, it was very interesting running some workshops with customers and non customers last week. Our session was really a cross between a focus group – we wanted the groups thoughts and opinions on some concepts and a workshop – we wanted the group to be creative and come up with some new ideas and designs.
A reminder to myself when running these sessions:
Prior to the Focus group/Workshop
The more time spent on planning the smoother it will run
- Ensure your aims and objectives are clear for the overall research and for each section; think about the outputs you want from each section
- Planning the timing is essential and build in extra 10 between sections to allow for overrun
- Get to the room early and have room set up the way you want it and make sure you have all the materials you need e.g. paper. Blue tack, post-its, pens etc.
During the Session
People like to be creative and compete in groups
- Show participants an agenda, the timeline and share overall objectives/top level ideas with them. Return to these ideas during the session to keep everyone on track
- Set the tone at beginning, be clear and concise but also remind participants you want to have some fun!
- Spend some time on housekeeping– letting them know you want everyone to have the opportunity to speak and to respect one anothers’ opinion etc. Let them know you are on a tight time schedule and might have to hurry them along. Tell them to turn off mobiles
- Include an ice-breaking session at the beginning, we asked people to bring a personal item in (or to imagine a personal item that would represent them) which worked well
- Keep questions short, simple and open and use their language. Do not start with anything threatening or embarrassing but build up trust in room first.
- Do ask participants to think about questions or points themselves first and commit ideas to paper and then share ideas with their partners
- Be adventurous – plan some interesting exercises for both pairs and groups – have them build or design sites or items, people love the opportunity to be creative. Mix it up.
- Reward and encourage new ideas and don’t be afraid to encourage teams to be competitive – nothing wrong with a little motivation and of course;
>>don’t forget the chocolate>>
A final thought
We had sessions with two groups. Only one of the groups had been participating in diary study before we had our session and were much more primed to be part of the research from the onset. Consider giving participants who are coming to a focus group or a workshop some sort of short exercise the week before the meeting. It will get them thinking about the research before they step into the room