What does a Focus Group Moderator do?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A focus group moderator helps organize and run focus groups. She guides discussions, encouraging group participants to share their thoughts and opinions about the topics at hand. A focus group moderator also helps create discussion guides and scripts intended to ensure the discussion runs smoothly, stays on track, and delivers the type of information the focus group client, usually a business, needs.

A focus group moderator helps organize and run focus groups.
A focus group moderator helps organize and run focus groups.

Focus groups bring a group of consumers together to discuss a topic in depth. Often, these groups are used to obtain consumer opinions about a company's products and services. The topics that may be covered in a focus group include the participants' opinions of the company's brand and current products, new products and services, advertising campaigns, and product improvement ideas. A focus group can also help a company learn about its customers' habits when it comes to making purchases or discover how its employees feel about the benefits it provides.

A focus group moderator should encourage discussion while being careful not to influence opinion.
A focus group moderator should encourage discussion while being careful not to influence opinion.

A focus group moderator's primary job is to lead a panel of participants in discussion. This typically means asking questions and providing information about a selection of topics. It may also involve allowing participants to view or listen to advertising campaigns the company has implemented or has evaluated for possible implementation. Sometimes the moderator also provides samples of products in order to gauge the group’s reaction to them.

When an individual acts as a focus group moderator, she has to stimulate discussions without interjecting her own opinion. She may ask pointed questions, but must do so without leading the group toward a particular answer. She must also try to draw more detailed answers out of group participants when necessary and encourage even the most timid panel members to participate fully. At times, she may also have to redirect a conversation that is moving to topics the client isn't interested in covering.

Before a focus group, a moderator often communicates with the client to plan the discussion and ensure it will meet the client's need for information. She may help create guides and scripts for the discussion that ensure the focus stays on the appropriate topics. During the discussion, she may leave the room and meet with the client to discuss adding questions to the list of topics or pursuing a particular discussion point. After the discussion, a focus group moderator may compile a report that summarizes the discussion session. This often includes the moderator’s perspective on the focus group.

Focus groups are effective tools for measuring the opinions and values of consumers about various products and services they use.
Focus groups are effective tools for measuring the opinions and values of consumers about various products and services they use.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

John57

I have done two different focus group studies in my town. Both of them have been completely different, but the moderators did a good job of keeping everything on track. You have no idea what kind of questions they are going to ask you, and they are taking notes and observing everything that is said.

If you are not comfortable with sharing your opinion with a group of people, you might not enjoy the process. Many focus group questions are very blunt and make you really stop and think. After you state your opinion, many times you are then asked what makes you feel that way instead of another way.

The moderators do a very good job of keeping everything moving smoothly and making sure you stay on the topic at hand.

SarahSon

Being a focus group moderator would be quite an interesting job, but the ones I have been in contact with have had to travel a lot. Focus groups are held in several different cities and many moderators travel from city to city.

If you wanted to be a focus group moderator, but didn't want to do all that traveling, being a moderator for an online focus groups would be much better. You could do everything from your computer - many of them even work from home.

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