Focus Groups

A focus group usually comprises a small group of people brought together to discuss a specific topic(s) or issue(s). This is a useful method of consulting people when you need to explore ideas and views in more depth. A small focus group can be less inhibiting than a public meeting and as such it can encourage greater discussion, reflection and a more free exchange of ideas and opinions.

Planning a focus group

  • put together a circulation list of participants contact details. Try and get a mix of people relevant to whatever issue is being discussed and aim for 8-10 in number

  • set a date, time and location -Allow up to two hours for discussion time

  • make initial attendance request by phone or email, followed by a flyer invitation and give participants a reminder call/email just before the day to remind them

  • describe the purpose of the focus group and if refreshments will be served

  • arrange for an impartial facilitator to lead the discussion. The facilitator should be someone who can keep the group on track while staying in the background during discussions

  • ensure the facilitator has a question guide - this will be determined by the aim of the consultation

  • arrange for someone to take notes

  • have a sign in sheet and name tags for each participant, and allow 15 minutes for informal introductions

Holding the focus group

  • introduce yourself, and have participants introduce themselves formally to the group

  • inform the group of housekeeping arrangements, such as health and safety, emergency exits, etc.

  • describe the process and why the focus group has been set up, and highlight any confidentiality policy to be adhered to

  • at the end of the focus group the facilitator should be able to summarize the discussion- highlighting main points

  • inform them of the next steps –do you need to conduct further consultation? Make participants aware of ways they can be of further help

  • let them know when and how the results will be available

  • thank them for their participation

After the focus group

  • compile answers to questions into their various categories, this can form the basis of a survey or further consultation

  • discuss the results with any partners and/or committee and decide how they will be incorporated into a further survey or consultation