As a qualitative researcher, one of the most important aspects is allowing the opportunity for voices to be heard. We say that at the beginning of every group and oftentimes wonder if this is why our moderators have such success in getting respondents to openly share—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Eliciting such honest conversation might be achievable in multiple ways, but for us, making respondents believe that their voice matters has been very successful.
People want their voices, their lives, their opinions and experiences to matter. It is frustrating for people to go through this world thinking that they have little to no say in the daily happenings of the world around them. Instilling a belief in respondents that they matter and that the purpose of the group revolves around their words being heard is critical to success.
In order to effectively do this, moderators have to be great listeners and even better at putting respondents at ease. Establishing rapport from the moment the respondents enter the room is key. Making the respondents feel at ease and comfortable in the environment is also very important. And being clear that the purpose of the group is to make sure their opinion will be heard is paramount to the success of the group. Some moderators want to be the center of attention, instead of allowing the stories in the room to take center stage. In those instances, respondents are often repelled and turned off by the experience, they sit quietly, answer with short, one-word responses and countdown the minutes until their time is up. When moderators make the respondents feel like the important ones in the room, the richness of the content is undeniable.
Respondents have to know and feel that they matter. That their voices are being heard. That their opinions count. When done correctly, it’s no surprise when the respondents hug the moderator.