10 tips for running successful focusgroups
by Thomas L. Greenbaum
How often do we researchers take time to reflect on our work and identify the key lessons that might be useful toothers in the profession or considering entering it?I have spent most of the last 15 years moderating focusgroups on a wide variety of topics for more than 300different organizations. As a result, I have learned someimportant lessons about focus groups that I want to share:
1. You never can do too much planning for a focusgroup.
The effort put into advanced planning for a groupalways pays out in terms of the overall quality of theoutput from the process. This includes such thingsas the most appropriate recruitment parameters, thecontent and flow of the discussion guide and the"external stimuli" that are used to elicit reactionsfrom the participants.
2. Manage the recruitment process actively to be sure toget the right people in the groups.
Despite the good intentions of recruitmentorganizations throughout the country, the moderator has the ultimate responsibility for the quality of therespondents.Because the quality of the output from focus groupsdepends on having the right people in the room, Idecided years ago to invest in a full-time field professional to focus on this aspect. This enables meto concentrate on the actual focus group process,including developing the moderator guide,moderating groups and writing effective reports.
3. Don’t prejudge the participants based on physicalappearance.