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    Checklist for Focus Group Facilitators

    Updated on: Jul 2nd, 2013
    Data Visualization
    A collage of laptops, clocks, calendars, and charts in Depict Data Studio's purple, blue, green, and fuchsia color palette.

    Are you facilitating a focus group? If so, you’ve probably got a lot on your mind – greeting participants, making sure everyone feels comfortable, covering all the key questions… It’s a lot to remember!

    As I was learning to facilitate focus groups, I started taking notes of all the good advice I received from experienced facilitators. I turned that advice into a checklist for myself. I  review my checklist before every focus group (to keep the advice fresh on my mind) and after every focus group (as a self-evaluation). You could also use this checklist to assess colleagues who are learning to facilitate focus groups (i.e., use the checklist as a conversation starter when you’re debriefing together after the focus group).

    Here’s my checklist for focus group facilitators. Did the facilitator:

    • Introduce him or herself?
    • Explain the purpose of the focus group?
    • Explain the rules for the discussion?
    • Address issues of confidentiality?
    • Use verbal and non-verbal expressions to make participants feel comfortable during the focus group?
    • Facilitate real interaction among group members (not just a series of individual interviews)?
    • Draw everyone into the discussion?
    • Demonstrate genuine interest in the discussion?
    • If asked for their personal opinion on a topic during the group, deflect requests by participants to give an opinion?
    • Maintain a good pace during the discussion (kept things moving but don’t rush questions)?
    • Ask questions in a neutral way (not in a leading way)?
    • Link comments to previous comments or themes?
    • Address comments or behaviors that could take the discussion off course?
    • Address disruptive and disrespectful behavior?
    • Ask participants for validation if rewording or summarizing comments?
    • Courteously but firmly stop a chatty participant?
    • Demonstrate sensitivity to emotional reactions of participants?
    • Display awareness and respect for cultural issues that emerge in the discussion?
    • Re-explain or re-phrase questions as needed?
    • Sincerely thank participants for contributing?

    Do you have additional tips to add to the checklist? Which tips have been most valuable to you when facilitating a focus group?

    More about Ann K. Emery
    Ann K. Emery is a sought-after speaker who is determined to get your data out of spreadsheets and into stakeholders’ hands. Each year, she leads more than 100 workshops, webinars, and keynotes for thousands of people around the globe. Her design consultancy also overhauls graphs, publications, and slideshows with the goal of making technical information easier to understand for non-technical audiences.

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