Focus Groups

Focus groups are processes that use direction and greater formality in a dialogue in order to obtain input on a specific and focused topic. In focus groups, a facilitator leads the participants through a guided series of questions, and probes for more detailed responses. In the case of focus groups, there is more control over the emerging perspectives but less spontaneity in the content of the discussion. There is a trade-off between orderly discussion and richness in the quality of discussion. In very tense conflicts, the greater control of behaviour in focus group sessions may prove beneficial.

Objective/s: obtain input from participants about a specific topic or product. Group consensus is not required.

Resources: Flip chart paper, markers, tables and chairs, recorder

Audience: How Many: typically 8 to 12 participants
Time: typically 2 hours


  1. Define the purpose and outcomes of the focus group

  2. Write the questions - typically use a larger number of narrowly focused questions that address the sponsors specific goals and are direct and to the point. Start with one or two broad questions and progressively 'narrow' the focus of each question.

  3. Set the locations, dates, and time for the sessions

  4. Define and recruit the target population

  5. Open the session with explanation of outcomes and the role of the moderator

  6. Lead the questions and record the answers from the participants

  7. Analyze the results