A face-to-face focus group taking place following the advice of a focus group recruitment agency.

5 fantastic task ideas to improve your next focus group

Read this blog to discover some fantastic focus group activities to get you the insights you need from your market research projects, and how our focus group recruitment agency will help you find your perfect participants.

It goes without saying that your participants are the biggest factor for focus group success. However...

… if you don’t utilise those participants in the best possible way, you’ll reduce your chances of getting the insights you want from your project significantly!

As a focus group recruitment agency, we’ve worked with a variety of brands and companies over the years at Angelfish, and have subsequently come across many different (and brilliant) focus group activities that have helped them yield some truly fantastic insights, in both online and face-to-face scenarios.

Read on to find out what these different focus group activities are, and how they’ll help you make the most of your participants to uncover the insights you need.

Consider implementing these 5 task ideas in your next focus group:

Focus group participants sharing ideas on post-it notes, representing ideas from a focus group recruitment agency.

1. Pre-tasks

Some of the best focus groups we've seen at Angelfish (and the ones that get the best feedback from all parties) are ones where participants are set pre-tasks; i.e., a task that the participants complete before coming along for the actual research day.

This is effective because it means that, when the participants attend the session (whether in-person or online), they’ll have had the chance to explore their thoughts on the topic being discussed without being influenced by anyone else in the group, and be more “warmed up” and ready to get involved in the discussion.

Some ideas here include short quizzes, browsing around your brand’s website, creating mood boards, keeping a mobile journal and so on.

2. Ice breakers

While these don’t have anything to do with the actual research itself (though you are welcome to introduce the focus group’s themes within them if you wish), they’re a great way to get your participants warmed up ready for main discussion ahead, break down their barriers, boost their engagement, and make them feel more comfortable interacting with your moderator and each other.

Just some examples of ice breaker activities include “two truths, one lie,” “bucket list,” a quick debate (e.g., Which are better: Dogs or cats?), or charades.

3. Free writing

Free writing is an exercise that was developed by Peter Elbow in 1973. Essentially, it involves giving your participants a prompt, and giving them a minute to simply write down whatever comes into their head without stopping.

After the minute is up, ask around the group to see what they’ve written. Make notes about any commonalities or significant differences in participants’ thought processes in order to ask questions and help them explore these questions further.

This is a great activity to have at the beginning of your session, because it gives the participants a chance to express their thoughts freely and as individuals without being influenced by the other participants, before discussing their thoughts as a group.

4. Human spectrogram

A human spectrogram is a non-verbal activity where participants physically move to part of a room to indicate their answer to a question.

For example, you could have a line running across the room, with one end representing “strongly agree,” and the opposite end representing “strongly disagree” (if your focus group is taking place online, use a collaboration tool such as an online whiteboard, or use live polling).

You can then ask participants to share the reasoning behind their answers and discuss this with each other. This is a great activity to encourage openness from your participants around a topic, and highlight any complexities in the subject area for deeper discussion.

Additional tip: If you’re conducting a face-to-face focus group, ensure you pick the right venue to allow for space and comfort in this activity!

5. Breakaway discussions

Although your focus group won’t be especially large (between six and ten participants), it can be harder for more introverted participants to express themselves within a whole-group scenario.

This is where breakaway discussions (two or three smaller groups) can be handy, as your quieter participants may feel they don’t have to compete so hard with “louder voices” in the group.

It will also give each participant more time to discuss their opinions in depth, which will give you a greater amount and more representative data to analyse.

6. Role play

Role play is great interactive activity if you’re seeking participants’ thoughts, feelings and opinions about a brand or service. It will give you a good idea of their requirements, expectations and desires from a product or service, and can also be good for your participants to sink their teeth into.

For example, one participant might play the owner of your product or service, and the other might be a prospective buyer. By placing your participants in a role outside of themselves, you’ll begin to see more diverse thought processes, quicker idea generation, and perhaps even some problem solving!

Additional tip: Even if your participants are confident individuals, role playing might feel a bit awkward for them, so we’d recommend saving this activity for nearer the end of your session when your participants have got to know each other a bit better and are feeling more comfortable.

A man taking part in an online focus group, representing ideas from a focus group recruitment agency.

An important note...

You will need to consider ways to make all the above activities as accessible as possible for participants who accessibility requirements.

For example, if you have a participant with a mobility impairment, you may need to consider amending the human spectrogram activity to ensure they are as able to get involved as the other participants.

Now that you’ve got some great focus group activity ideas under your belt, it’s time to find your participants!

This is where Angelfish can help! As we mentioned above, we’ve got a decade of experience helping brands and businesses find the perfect participants for their projects, and we’d be delighted to do the same for you.

Simply get in touch with us today and we’ll get the ball rolling!


Let's Talk

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