Blog FPO
By: Ashley Uhl | Feb, 14 2020
Facilitation

5 Tips for Better Focus Groups

Over the years, I have moderated 100s of focus groups, and written moderator’s guides and screeners for countless others. While many think focus groups are an easy way to get feedback from members, it’s more than meets the eye (like most things in Associations!) Here are five quick tips to make your next focus groups the best they can be.

1. Make sure you have the right people in the room.
A focus group with the wrong people is useless. Write a screener questionnaire to make sure you have people who are your EXACT target audience will help ensure you get useful data. For a membership-related focus group, you’d want to know membership tenure, likelihood to renew, volunteer roles held, whether their employer pays dues, etc.

2. If you can’t outsource moderation to a 3rd party, have someone who is far removed from the topic at hand.
Outsourcing moderation to an impartial person will get you the best results. If your organization can’t afford that, make sure your moderator is not personally invested in the discussion. For example, putting your membership director in charge of moderating a focus group on membership benefits is a recipe for disaster.

3. Have a moderator’s guide.
A focus group is more than a discussion. It’s a carefully structured guided conversation designed to provide qualitative data on a specific issue. It’s the difference between asking someone “How are you doing today,” and “How are you feeling about that tough situation at work today?” The moderator’s guide should have carefully constructed, probing, open-ended questions.

4. Don’t be afraid of silence.
Moderators are trained to embrace the awkward silence. If you’re moderating the group yourself – know that silence is ok! If you let it drag out long enough, someone will speak up for sure. Once they start talking, pull others into the conversation using their names. “Great point, Fred. Let’s see what Amy thinks about that now.”

5. Go where the people are.
While in-person groups are best, that isn’t always a possibility when working with a tight budget. Online focus groups work well too! A google search will turn up several online focus group providers that will allow you to host text-only or video focus groups. However, there’s affordable alternatives at your fingertips! Zoom will work well and allow you to record the entire session, and Google hangouts could do the trick as well for a text-based group. While I typically recommend face to face groups (even virtually), if your topic is sensitive, a text based group is best so everyone can remain anonymous.

Happy Focus Group-ing!

Listening to Lead

​Most of us are familiar with a traditional leadership model, a bureaucratic one that leads from the top down. Decisions are made from the leaders and passed down the line to be implemented. While this leadership style has its place and purpose, in facilitation work we often challenge people to embrace a different leadership style. One that’s purpose is to seek input from all and decisions owned by the group.

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By: Savannah Phillips | Feb, 26 2020
Meetings

Top 5 Ideas to Make Conferences More Fun for Attendees

​Your association’s annual conference is likely one of the most anticipated events of the year for your members. The opportunities for networking and learning at these events seem endless… If you can keep your attendees engaged with fun, unique activities.

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By: Lindsay Gross | Feb, 21 2020
Facilitation

Am I there yet?

​One’s journey to become an “expert” in the field can be a long and winding one. It requires years of experience, training and confidence. Early in my career as I worked hard to become more skilled in my field. I looked forward to achieving that goal of being an experienced professional in the field. Somewhere along the way, I realized we never really arrive. The work and the growth always continue.

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By: Ashley Uhl | Feb, 14 2020
Facilitation

5 Tips for Better Focus Groups

While many think focus groups are an easy way to get feedback from members, it’s more than meets the eye (like most things in Associations!) Here are five quick tips to make your next focus groups the best they can be.

Read More >

Gardian of the Month: Brian Vigna

​​Brian Vigna, Instructional Designer for Event Garde, is our Gardian of the Month.

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Accounting for 5 types of unconscious bias in facilitation

​Unconscious bias can sneak into the meetings and events we facilitate. Unfortunately, this can have a damaging effect on not only participation, but on the outcomes of the facilitated experience, as well. How can we draw greater awareness to unconscious bias and counteract its negative consequences?

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