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Focus groups are a flexible research tool that allow for a thorough exploration of an issue. They are great for clarifying survey results, generating ideas, getting a fresh perspective and interpreting facts.

If you’ve been putting off focus groups because you don’t have the time or don’t think they’re necessary, think again.

Here are five reasons to give them a try:


The group dynamic sparks conversation

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Participants not only reply to questions posed by the moderator, but also respond to each other—agree, disagree, clarify, add ideas, correct and expand. The collaborative environment lets employees:

  • Add their own perspectives.
  • Play devil’s advocate.
  • Build on concepts and ideas.
  • Set the record straight and correct fallacies.


Interactive exercises support out-of-the-box thinking

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Most employees have spent too much time in boring meetings and, as a result, they may be jaded and resistant. Liven up your focus group by adding an exercise game. Consider one of these activities to energize the room and get the creative juices flowing:

  • Drawing
    Ask employees to draw a picture of a daily work challenge or a desired goal. The illustrations will provide a clear picture of the problem, such as missing tools, steps or knowledge.
  • Scenarios
    Use this tactic when employees are reluctant to criticize. Participants are more willing to offer advice on solving an issue when it’s a fictional situation.
  • Sorting/listing/arranging
    Instruct employees to sort a series of words, pictures or ideas into categories. This hands-on activity is a fun way to get participants focused by asking them to solve a challenge.

For more ideas on interactivity, download our Smart guide, 7 exercises to increase participation in your next focus group.


The efficiency of a one-stop shop saves time and money

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You don’t need to run a focus group at every location in the company. Since this method of research is designed to produce insights instead of numerical data, your objective is not to obtain feedback from every single employee. Instead, invite a diverse group of participants from multiple sites, departments and regions within your organization.


Virtual sessions enable participation from anywhere

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While face-to-face sessions remain the gold standard, virtual or web-based focus groups are also a smart choice. Engage your digital audience by using the great features of most web-conferencing software: visuals/slides, real-time polls and live chats.



A little planning is all you need to be successful

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As a moderator, you need to be mindful of the time and your objectives. It’s important to be assertive without interrupting the conversational flow. Here are some tips on how to keep the session on track:

  • Regularly refer to the discussion guide or presentation.
  • Allow tangents and detours, but bring the discussion back to the main topic.
  • Diplomatically interrupt those who speak too long.
  • Ease tension with a joke and redirect the conversation.
  • Keep your eye on the quiet participants and see if you can solicit responses from them as well.

Want to learn more? Buy the book, How to conduct employee focus groups