The plan was to hear a presentation given by a colleague of mine about how to choose which behavior to target when planning a social marketing campaign. She called me the night before to let me know she decided she was just too sick to do it; she asked me to present instead.
Part of any good behavior change research includes learning about your audience. This can be done through secondary research (reading research already compiled on the audience and/or the specific behavior), through observation, or just by asking. I spoke about the “asking” aspect – specifically focus groups. They are the perfect methodology for learning about the reasons and emotions behind behavior and assessing any barriers to behavior change.
I shared with the group three key aspects of conducting focus groups along with tips for insuring each is in play:
1. What makes an effective moderator – amazing listening skills, keen observer of verbal and non-verbal behavior, the ability to facilitate not participate in the discussion, management of group dynamics ensuring that one individual does not dominate the discussion.
Tip: Hire a professional moderator if you don’t feel comfortable. Moderating can be a challenging task for the inexperienced.
2. Good techniques for asking questions – probing and clarifying statements, reweaving previous points shared to facilitate discussion, incorporate a good mix of open floor and participant directed questions, redirect questions asked of moderator, employ silence and playing dumb, ask for differing opinions and probe for ideas not discussed.
Tip: Mixing up the discussion (including questioning approaches) keeps it interesting for participants and enables you to uncover their true thoughts and feelings related to behavior change. These approaches can be augmented by the many projective techniques to further delve into the emotional barriers and motivators.
3. Good probing questions to ask – asking questions including “what do you mean,” “tell me more,” “what makes that important,” “what led you to that point,” “what would have to change for you to do that” are just the top of the many ways you can ask good probing questions.
Tip: We naturally want to simply ask “why.” To help counter this, develop a detailed discussion guide up front, writing out the questions you plan to ask. Keep in mind this is a guide, not a script, so be flexible.
If you are interested in discussing a presentation opportunity with me, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org