However, the warm-up section of discussion guides for focus groups is often quicky assembled and no longer than 5 minutes. That's typically all the time clients usually have to put towards this task and the warm-up questions are frequently considered throw-aways.
Here are several ways to get the most out of your focus group participants by warming them up in a way that provides for a fruitful discussion and take-away.
- Give them homework to bring in and talk about when they introduce themselves: a possession from home or a photograph, something drawn often works for children or a favorite toy.
- Divide the group into pairs and have each respondent take a few minutes to interview the other. Each introduces their partner to the group. This can take longer if you don't keep a tab on the time, but it's great for building support for the tasks ahead.
- Bring favorite foods in to offer respondents and have them talk about memories or anything else triggered by the foods.
- When focus groups take place around holidays, have respondents share a holiday tradition or plans that they either look forward to or want to escape from.
- Have respondents draw a quick sketch of the person to their right to completely disarm them and bring some chuckles to the first 10 minutes of the group.
- Throw a ball into the room and ask respondents to throw it to each other and ask the questions they want to know of each other when the ball lands in someone's hands.