What are Focus Groups?

Objectives

  • To learn what a focus group is
  • To understand the format of focus groups
  • To practice facilitating a focus group

Materials

  • Butcher paper/flip chart paper
  • Markers
  • Tape
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Clipboards
  • Index cards (1 per participant)

Prepare Before

N/A


Warm Up

Hand out index cards and have participants write the following sentences, filling in the blanks with their own answers. Remind participants that they will be sharing these with the group. When everyone is done, collect the cards.

  1. If I could be a guest on any talk show it would be:
  2. The other two guests would be (names or types of people):
  3. We would be discussing this topic:
  4. Three questions the host would ask us would be:

Experience

Explain that a focus group is just like a talk show but in private: It is a group discussion that is focused around one topic. The purpose is to record people’s opinions, something like a group interview.

Break the participants into three small groups and give each group several index cards from the warm-up activity. Ask each group to pick one card and select a host of their talk show. The host will ask the questions on the topic and facilitate the talk show. It is the host’s job to get people talking about the issue on the card. Encourage participants to take on different personalities, characters, or political views. Give groups 10-15 minutes to plan and practice their talk show.

Reflect

Have each group present their talk show. Each presentation should be no more than five minutes.

Summarize

After each group presents, ask the “audience” the following questions:

  • What were some of the opinions of the people on the talk show?
  • Were there any issues that people seemed to agree upon?
  • What did the host do or say to get people to talk and share their opinions?
  • Can you identify any great follow-up questions or leading questions?
  • What were some of the difficulties a focus group leader might encounter?

Demonstrate

On a scale of 1 to 5 — with 1 being least and 5 being most — how would you rate your interest in leading a focus group? Why? What population or audience would you be interested in talking to the most?