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Executing a Seamless Virtual Focus Group: Tips from the Experts

Successfully coordinating and leading a virtual focus group can be intimidating if you haven’t done one before. Finding that perfect combination of being well-prepared yet also allowing the conversation to flow freely where it needs to go can be a tricky groove to find. How do you make the participants comfortable? Does it matter who is in which focus group? DCI has held countless virtual focus groups–literally. Below are some of the top tips straight from the experts themselves.

1. Practice makes perfect 

“Do a full test run with your colleagues. Testing the technology and making sure you are comfortable running the meeting is crucial, but so is practicing the flow of the agenda and questions themselves. You want to be prepared, but also ensure that the focus group has a natural cadence to it.” -Amalie Batchelder, Assistant Account Executive

2. Be intentional when assigning groups

“Sometimes it’s helpful to separate participants by certain parameters (i.e. young professionals, stakeholders, private sector executives) and ask targeted questions. Other times it’s helpful to mix participants to get a wider base of opinions. Consider what you hope to take away from each focus group session and group accordingly, and always ensure that there’s a diverse representation among the groups.” -Nick Reshan, Senior Account Executive

3. Give everyone a chance to speak 

If possible, limit groups to 10-12 people to maximize conversation and allow everyone an opportunity to speak. Encourage participants to use video and be candid in their responses. Using a mix of polling and discussion questions provides a mix of qualitative and quantitative data, and allows some participants who may not wish to speak much a chance to participate via the polls. Encouraging people to use Zoom’s chat function can also ramp up engagement.” -Sarah Reinecke, Account Director

4. Keep it interactive

“Keep attendees engaged, and don’t give them the opportunity to space out or check their emails during the focus group. Utilize tools within your platform such as polling, breakout rooms or chat box prompts. The goal is to make this a group activity– not a one-way dialogue.” -Patience Fairbrother, Senior Director of Digital & Brand Strategy

5. Ask follow up questions 

“You might receive broad, vague answers. Or a participant might mention something you’ve not heard in any other session. Don’t be afraid to push for specificity and clear examples. The more deeply you understand participants’ opinions, the better next steps you’ll be able to take.” -Nick Reshan, Senior Account Executive

There might not be a one-size-fits-all approach when holding virtual focus groups (or virtual events of any kind for that matter), but these tips above are a surefire place to start. If you have specific questions about virtual focus groups or how DCI can help execute yours, please feel free to contact  Dariel Curren, Executive Vice President at [email protected]. DCI has a Virtual Task Force that is well versed in the various virtual platforms and best practices.

Written By

Heather Gantz

Heather Gantz is an Account Executive specializing in talent marketing at DCI. With a background in journalism, Heather is passionate about quality and compelling storytelling. Since joining DCI in 2020, she has enjoyed working with clients including Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Greater New Orleans, Inc., and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance.

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