Creating an effective discussion guide for your focus group

The most important part of conducting any focus group is identifying the correct demographic of participants. Inviting participants who will never interact with or buy from your company, won’t give you the insight you are looking for.

Second to this is creating an effective discussion guide. The discussion guide will consist of the topics that you want to cover that will support with driving the conversation. Having an open forum without a discussion guide could result in strong voices in the room taking over, which could result in not achieving your desired outcome.

Focus Group Discussion

Below are five steps to creating an effective discussion guide:

Focus Groups

Create an effective discussion guide.

1 – Start with WHY. What is the purpose of conducting this focus group? What are you hoping to achieve? Write down the outcome you are hoping to find out from the participants.

2 – Create 5 questions/discussion topics that will support with achieving your end goal. Breakdown your overall objective into smaller discussion points that will achieve your desired outcome.

3 – Structure your questions/discussion topics as open-ended questions so participants can’t just answer with a yes or no. For example, rather than asking ‘Are you happy with the level of customer service your account manager provides?’ ask ‘What are 3 things you feel your account manager does well with regards to managing your account?’

4 – Create at least one group activity. As well as inviting open discussion on your chosen topics, create an activity where participants break off into smaller groups. For example, if you are focusing on customer service, ask the participants to break up into smaller groups of 2 or 3 and create a list of what they like about the service you provide, and another list about what could be better. Ask each group to share their answers and note and discuss any common themes.

5 – Set timeframes for each discussion point and group activity. The focus group moderator needs to keep control of the conversation and make sure all discussion points are covered within the total allocated timeframe. You don’t want to get to the end of the session and not have covered everything you need to achieve your overall objective.

Focus Groups

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Talk to one of our Research Consultants to find out how we can support your business with creating an effective focus group.

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