Lessons from My First Focus Group

1. Use your local experts

I didn’t sleep well the night before. It felt like Christmas. I had gone over the focus group guide with my local version of Linda Cushman three times. We were playing with the order of the questions, the wording, the probes. Key stakeholders had reviewed the guide, suggested edits, reworded questions. I reviewed my Research Design and Data Collection class notes.

Take a seat wherever you’d like.

2. Check, double check

The table was set with pencils, paper, and name tags. I had my consent forms, focus group guide, and pen. The two digital records had fresh batteries and had been checked. The large butcher paper and markers were at the ready. The corner table had drinking water and glasses. My assistant had been prepped.

I was ready.

This is me looking ready.

3. Breathe

It was 3 pm. Then 3:05. I started fiddling with the chairs, nametags, recorders. I went to ask the front desk if my participants had arrived, if they were in that day, if we could call them.

4. Send Reminders

At 3:10, four out of six had arrived. The other two weren’t available. We went on without them. Sometimes I was flustered, awkward, spoke too fast. Overall, it was okay. We laughed. We understood each other. It felt like teaching, like presenting, like interviewing. All these things I like to do mixed together.


I tried writing a post before having my first focus group, but all I got was: OMGz sdkjfer029irflkdjlfkjslkfj. Really. That incomprehensible onomatopoeic string was the entire post.


5 thoughts on “Lessons from My First Focus Group

  1. 3:10 is the new 4:20. that’s why those two didn’t show.

  2. Looking good, Ksenia. I’m to give workshops on qualitative research methods next month…While I don’t intend to hold real (or fake) focus groups, any tips on what you think are essentials to cover (meeting times, follow up phone calls, question order) will be greatly appreciated. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Focus Groups with Women: Things Left Unsaid « Ksenia DV

  4. Pingback: Colombian Curiosities III: Thong Bus Seatcovers | Ksenia DV

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