Conducting your first focus group or looking to improve on your last? Here are five easy tips to consider during your planning process.


  1. Limit the focus group to 45 minutes. If you send out an email asking for 45 minutes of their time, people are more likely to commit than if you ask for an hour.


  1. Have a facilitator. This person will be directing the focus group. Come prepared with five or six questions and see where the group takes it from there. This person should appear invisible during discussion. Sit at a neutral seat around the table (i.e., do not sit at the head of the table) and shift your seat backwards when the focus group begins. Both of these tactics help the facilitator to have no influence on participants’ answers during the session.


  1. Have a note taker. This person should be taking notes on participants’ body language and key moments during the focus group. Make sure to only write down cues not picked up by the audio recording; frivolous writing could make participants nervous.


  1. Finish with an open-ended question. Ask, “What have we not talked about that you want to talk about?” Let the awkward silence happen and wait it out. This is when you will get some of your best information.


  1. Provide promotional materials. When the focus group is over, offer business cards and brochures to the participants. This is a great opportunity for them to continue to learn about the organization, share materials with others or exchange contact information for future questions.


Courtney Mains is an account executive with the Eugene Education Foundation team. She is a junior at University of Oregon and hopes to work in the sports industry after graduation. 
Courtney Mains

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