Define Expectations. As the moderator, this is where you establish the rules. You must inform the participants about the purpose of the focus group, their expected time of participation, what you as the moderator will be discussing and the ground rules, such as cell phones off, talking one at a time and informing them that they are being recorded. Make sure you get permission from the participants. You can get this verbally but most prefer to have them sign off on a consent form.
Know Your Script. This seems obvious, but it is very important to come in with a plan of action and know what questions to ask, taking into consideration how long participants will have to answer them. Repeat the questions by restating them, if necessary. Pause and allow the dialogue to flow freely. Ask who, what, where and how. Dig deeper and move the conversation along. Develop a moderator’s guide (or script) to follow, and if there are more things to cover, create a separate questionnaire for participants to fill out before the interview. Rehearse for time consideration and test any presentation such as PowerPoint or Internet connection on location.
Watch for Group Dynamics. You must encourage participation from everyone. Ask questions directly to those who are not speaking up while looking out for dominating opinions. You need to set the tone for conflicting opinions and create some balance.
Method of Capturing Information. The reason why you’re conducting a focus group is to find out if a product, service or information is valuable to your audience. It is very important to capture the information you’re collecting. The best way to do so is to record (or tape) the session as well as a have another individual take notes.
The information you have gathered can now be compiled into a report for your organization or your client.