A focus group is a qualitative research strategy used to elicit detailed insights and opinions from a small, varied group of people on a given topic, product, service, or issue. An online focus group, also known as a virtual focus group, is a sort of focus group that takes place over the internet.
When in-person meetings are not possible or practicable, an online focus group discussion can be a useful tool to address concerns and enable participation. Here are some tips for organizing and leading a successful online focus group discussion:
- Define the aim and Objectives: Outline the aim of the focus group discussion as well as the specific concerns or themes you wish to cover. Determine the goals you wish to achieve through this talk.
- Participants should be chosen as follows: Choose people who are knowledgeable about the topic or issues you want to address. Maintain diversity of viewpoints to enrich the dialogue. Aim for a manageable group size (usually 6 to 10 participants) to encourage active participation.
- Select the Best Platform: Choose a trustworthy and user-friendly internet platform to host the focus group discussion. There are several possibilities, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and specialized focus group software.
- Make a Moderator’s Guide: Create a detailed moderator’s guide to help guide the discussion. The guide should include a series of open-ended questions and discussion starters linked to the issues you wish to explore. It will aid in keeping the discussion focused and fruitful.
- Warm-up: Begin the discussion by introducing the moderator and all participants. Conduct a warm-up or icebreaker exercise to assist people feel more at ease and to generate a positive atmosphere.
- Set the Ground Rules: Establish ground rules for courteous communication and active participation at the start of the debate. Encourage participants to listen to others, prevent interruptions, and ensure that everyone has a chance to offer their thoughts.
- Guide the discussion: As the moderator, ask questions to encourage people to share their experiences, and create meaningful connections among the group. Maintain the conversation’s momentum and ensure that all participants have an opportunity to contribute.
- Meeting interface engagement: To increase the vibrancy of the responders during the conversation, the moderator can ask them to use the meeting chat tool to input some comments, such as numerical/degree responses.
- Record the conversation: With the approval of the participants, record the focus group conversation. This will aid in the correct capture of insights and will be beneficial for analysis and reference.
- Summarise and follow-up: Provide a quick summary of the main themes discussed at the end of the session. Thank the participants for their contributions and encourage any additional questions or remarks.
- Analyze and Report: After the discussion, review the data collected from the focus group. Recognise patterns, key concepts, and common problems. Create a report or presentation based on this data to share with stakeholders or decision-makers.
By following these steps, you can effectively use online focus group discussions to address concerns, encourage participation, and gain valuable insights from your participants.