The secret of success is to understand what goes on below the surface of groups.

Participants don’t just sit there waiting to answer your questions. They are trying to work out what you really want, if they like each other, who they might want to impress/ disagree with/ learn from…. and all of this emerges in what they say and how they say it.  So you need to

  • Manage the contributions,
  • Set up useful patterns of interaction
  • Be aware of their emotions and needs at different stages of the group, so you work with them and not against them.


Successful group

Recognise roles and manage contributions

  • Praise the group
  • Manage disruptive people
  • Politely curtail those who talk too much and bring in the quieter ones 
  • Manage conflicts constructively

Set up the group to avoid problems

Understand the moderator needs to do different things at different stages of the group

  • Forming – bond individuals together
  • Storming (if any) -value equally
  • Norming- set useful norms
  • Performing- the group works by itself
  • Mourning- let the group go

Download a 9 page article on:

  • How to manage contributions and conflicts
  • What to do at each group stage
  • Models for group processes
  • Group processes online
  • 20 common mistakes in moderating

Download Focus Group FAQs