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Discussion and focus groups – Working Together

A focus or discussion group can be a great way of engaging with a small group of people to get feedback on a very specific topic. For example, if you’re developing an information pack for people who have depression, it might be a good idea to hold a series of focus groups in different geographical areas, and across a range of communities. 

Focus groups are very helpful in developing ideas, because the group can explore and reflect on things together.  

Things to consider:

  • What skills and experience does the facilitator have? Do they need to access any training?
  • How will they manage the group dynamics? The group agreement template can help with this.
  • How can you/the facilitator make sure the group stays focused on the topic? A facilitation plan can be helpful here.
  • Think about what you want to explore or understand, the defining and refining tool can help you with this. Use the facilitation plan to help you structure when and how you will ask each question. 
  • Use a variety of activities to make answering them engaging and enjoyable. It can be helpful to write yourself prompts and include any probing / sub questions so you don’t forget them. Think about Why, What, How type open questions to explore peoples answers in more depth.
  • How many participants will you require to elicit the response you need? Focus groups tend to work best with between six and 10 participants, this means that you may need to run multiple groups in different locations.
  • Think about how you will feedback the results and what you will do as a result of this. The You said…We did tool in this toolkit is a simple way of doing this and can be shared in a digital format or in hard copies. This isn’t the only way however, you may want to create charts or an infographic to visually represent what you learnt.


Facilitation Plan

 This tool helps ensure your activity/event runs as smooth as possible. From how you present questions to participants and  to identifying what resources you will need.

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