A complete guide to managing and moderating focus groups online

Course Overview

Feel secure in the online environment.  Learn how to set up groups and manage clients,  experience and practice moderating online, and learn techniques for getting the most from the participants. Be confident in knowing what you can deliver. This course runs over two half days to allow everyone enough time for practice and feedback.

Learning Outcomes

You will be able to:

  • Explain the benefits and limitations of working online
  • Manage client expectations and participation
  • Evaluate and choose appropriate platforms for your needs
  • Set up groups and prepare participants
  • Optimise your moderating skills for an online environment
  • Understand how to use research stimulus and which techniques work best

Who will benefit:

This course will provide a safe and supportive space  to transfer and adapt your qualitative skills to the online environment. Some experience of interviewing or moderating face to face is desirable; the course is not for complete beginners.

Learning Method

As the course itself is held online, you will be learning continually, both from the perspective of the participant and as a moderator.  It includes moderating practice and a feedback session. You will see yourself working online and be able to optimise your approach.

Course Delivery Mode: virtual training course, using a video platform.  The course will not cover focus groups on chat based platforms.

I am a Fellow of the MRS and an Accredited Trainer specialising in qualitative research skills, thinking and methods. I was an early adopter of online qualitative methods. In a lifelong career, I can count the depths and groups I have done in the thousands. I have published ‘Interviewing Groups and Individuals in Qualitative Market Research’ (Sage) and a number of eBooks.

Outline Timing and Training plan

Pre- task: review a moderating topic guide. This can be done in short Zoom sessions the day before, which will also give me a chance to get to know the delegates and the personal learning objectives.

8th September

09:15 to 10:15  (Part one)


Benefits and limitations of focus groups online

Managing client expectations

Options for platforms and features

Recruiting and preparing participants.


10:30 to 11:45 (part two)

Moderator and participant introductions to set rules of engagement

Remaining unbiased

Managing conversations online

Maintaining engagement

Structuring guides and using stimulus material

Preparing for moderating first group


12:00-13:00 (Part three – online focus group 1)

5-7 participants take turns to moderate the others for 60 minutes



JC will review the recording and prepare feedback.



9th September


09:15 -10:15 (Part four – moderating second online group)

Those who were respondents on the 8th now have a turn to moderate.

(I will need to have that recording converted immediately to an mp4with a link where I can access it).


10:30- 11:30

Approx. 40 minutes - Feedback on group 1

20 mins – using projective techniques online – demonstration


11:45 – 12:45

Approx. 40 mins – feedback on group 1

20 mins – questions, hints and tips

12:45-13:00 – feedback from delegates

13:00  CLOSE 

The sessions for the practice groups need to be separate recordings that I can have access to and show snippets of during the training.  So,

  • either they are cloud recordings to which I have a link
  • they are local recordings on your computer – and are converted immediately and uploaded securely
  • they are local recordings on my computer

 All timings can be moved to the afternoon, although I think people learn better in the morning.

Delegates will receive a 15 page handout from my eBook and a copy of the charts.  I will screen share PowerPoint and Microsoft whiteboard during the training.

Additional Information

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