Richard has been moderating groups for almost 15 years, and has lost count of the number of groups and workshops moderated over the years – probably more than 300 and possibly fewer than 1000! Here’s his advice on how to be a quality moderator:
10. Keep it interesting / Keep them interested.
The majority of group participants will arrive at a focus group thinking they would rather be doing something else. From the moment they arrive, the onus is on the moderator and support team to ensure the experience is one they enjoy and would advocate! Don’t just leave the hostess to manage the ‘meet and greet’. Get out there yourself and make people feel welcome. And throughout subsequent discussions, the moderator has to prove they are listening to the participants. Revert back to points made earlier in the discussion as evidence to the group that you’re soaking up what they’re telling you!
9. Make it relevant
The way people communicate, interact and share opinion is significantly different to when the focus group boomed in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. The content and the format of the focus groups has to reflect the changes in how we communicate. We suggest using more online channels to deliver pre-group tasks and instructions, or post-group bulletin boards for continued debate. The role of the moderator is to facilitate, and this should involve making available as many tools as possible for participant’s use during the sessions (e.g. online access).