Top 7 moderator tips
A moderator may face a number of challenges when conducting a real-time online focus groups. Here are the top 7 suggestions on how to overcome them:
1. If one participant tries to dominate the session, the moderator should invite each person to speak in turn. Use the Plan Manager section of your GroupQuality account to build some predefined chat prompts to help diffuse or deflect the discussion.
2. Avoid personal confrontation and allow the group to police itself (e.g. “do others in the group agree?”). Make sure you have defined the group rules before the group discussion begins. Presenting a page to the group with a basic list of rules or guidelines to follow can do this.
3. Participants will have many different attitudes and prejudices. Don’t ignore these - work with them. Just say: “We seem to have a difference of opinion here. Let’s talk about it together. Why do we all think differently on this topic?” Then let the group discuss it. Use differences of opinion as a topic of discussion. As a moderator always avoid taking sides!
4. If the group is slow off the mark promote and foster discussion. Ask open- ended questions. Ones that cannot be answered with just a YES or a NO.
5. From the beginning, adopt a `listening’ rather than a `questioning’ approach. Start with general issues and use your moderator control panel to make sure you cover the issues you need to cover. Questions do not need to be followed in the order they are presented in the timeline. If the discussion naturally leads to a different topic follow this, but make sure everything is eventually covered.
6. Take issues ‘offline’. If things get heated during the session, it may be wise to ‘park’ the issue and address it later, either as a private chat session (one on one with the individual) or as part of a separate group discussion.
7. Dealing with technical issues. Despite planning and practice your group members may still run into trouble. If a participant gets disconnected make sure they know they can log right back in and rejoin the group at anytime. Keep a phone number or email address of the participant nearby in case you need someone to follow-up to make sure the participant is able to continue.