Focus groups are incredibly useful tools for any company looking to get direct consumer feedback. The key to a successful focus group is a good facilitator. Specialized training courses are available to teach you how to become a more effective facilitator.
One of the topics that you may cover in the course of your training is what to do when there is a lack of conversation in your focus group. The absence of conversation can compromise any focus group, but a trained facilitator can use one of the following tactics to help encourage open sharing.
1. Round Robin
One of the techniques that you will learn to employ in your focus groups is the round robin. A round robin can be a great way to get focus group participants to open up and share with the group as a whole. Each participant is asked to take a turn sharing their thoughts on a specific focus group script prompt. This type of sharing allows all participants to contribute to the conversation. Facilitators who use a round robin technique are able to stimulate conversation and obtain more useful data during each focus group they oversee.
2. Write and Share
Another technique that you will learn in focus group facilitation training is the write and share approach to communication. This approach can be helpful in getting participants to share their opinions.
During a write and share exercise, you will provide participants with a script prompt. Participants will then write down their thoughts before you open the floor for verbal conversation. Writing out a response gives participants time to organize and develop their thoughts before sharing with the group as a whole. Many participants will feel more confident sharing information when given the time to draft their thoughts in private.
3. Paired Sharing
Splitting focus group participants into pairs is a technique used by good facilitators when conversation wanes. A paired sharing approach can be particularly useful when discussing sensitive topics in your focus group. Participants have the opportunity to share their thoughts and learn about the thoughts of someone else in a controlled social environment. It's often easier for people to open up to one or two others than it is to share sensitive information with a large group. Once the paired sharing ends, you can ask participants to share their thoughts with the entire group.
A good focus group facilitator training program will help you master the techniques used to encourage open sharing in focus groups. For more information, contact a company like Group Dimensions International.