“Like every other agency research director, I suffer from focus-group anxiety. Pumping M&M's behind the one-way mirror, I'm monitoring the groups, the moderator and the client simultaneously. It's tough enough to manage the client's expectations and responses. Worrying about whether the moderator can effectively manage the content flow and the group dynamic makes the experience life threatening. Watching Tom moderate, I find myself constantly thinking, ‘Wow, he's smart. I wish I thought of that. He's the best.’”
--George Scribner, Research Manager, Organic Inc.
“Dynamic, entertaining, and armed with information on new drugs and medical techniques that would challenge the knowledge of most physicians, Tom Greenbaum presides over an attentive yet relaxed group of medical specialists anxious to share their opinions and prejudices with this most charming of focus group moderators. Serving as a polished master of ceremonies, Mr. Greenbaum is able to work with the many individual styles of his physician panel and at the conclusion, leaves one with the sense of having participated in something important.”
--Alan H. Richman, M.D., Chairman, Department of Radiology of Norwalk Hospital
“Tom Greenbaum is a highly effective moderator who has the special ability to quickly learn any subject matter and can conduct groups with expert knowledge. From the discussion guide to the final report, Tom works with speed and accuracy.”
--Mark Alfonso, V. P. of Marketing, The Purdue Frederick Company
“Tom is one of the most competent and intuitive moderators I have ever worked with: not only does he have an impeccable understanding of the technical skills necessary for a successful moderator, he also has a unique and uncanny ability to foster and capitalize on the internal dynamics of any group.”
--Joseph A. Ciaralli, The Prudential Insurance Company of America
“Thomas L. Greenbaum eats and breathes focus groups. If you want a definitive look at this research technique, you need to either live with the guru for a year or read his books.”
--Dave Quincy, Clarion Marketing and Communications
The entire range of facilitation techniques is covered in this comprehensive handbook, from pre-session tips in participant recruitment to post-session reporting. Moderating Focus Groups covers all the fundamentals of successful group facilitation, and also includes a wealth of advanced techniques not found in other books on focus group research (on managing group dynamics, energizing a tired group, and digging deeper into the minds of participants.) Greenbaum also goes beyond the basics with chapters on how to build a business moderating focus groups, and how to price moderating services. While this book is particularly aimed at the needs of focus group practitioners, there is plenty of advice that will benefit anyone who conducts in-depth interviews or group facilitation. Additionally, the many people who hire moderators to facilitate their sessions will benefit from reading this book because it will provide them with valuable insights on how to evaluate their moderators' work.
Chapter 9: The Discussion Guide
The Discussion Guide
This chapter will discuss the principal research instrument used by focus group moderators to direct the flow of the session. Specifically, we will cover the purpose of the discussion guide and the process that should be used to develop it; then we will review the various sections of a prototype guide that can be used to exemplify a typical format.
The Role of the Discussion Guide
The discussion guide has two primary roles in the focus group research process and some secondary purposes. The actual role that a discussion guide plays in the research process depends on the relative level of importance that the moderator and the client organization ascribe to it. In this context, views differ as to the importance of ...