20 February 2019

Why the First 10 Minutes of Qualitative Research are so Important

When budgets are tight and there is a lot of content to cover clients often want us to remove the introductory/ ice-breaker section at the start of the discussion guide. Whilst this introductory section will likely never be included in the final report it is vitally important to the quality of the research. Here we outline why this section should not be overlooked.

Here we outline how investing time and thought to these first ten minutes can benefit different types of research and provide some suggested tasks to use:

Research on a sensitive topic

Often in healthcare research we want to encourage the participant to open up and discuss the highly sensitive topic of their disease and treatment journey. Spending time to build rapport and help the participant relax during the first ten minutes of the interview will help them feel more confident to open up when you ask more difficult, sensitive questions later on. This can be particularly helpful in an unfamiliar viewing facility environment, where respondents may be nervous or shy about being viewed by people behind the one-way mirror.  

In a scenario such as this, we find the best opener is to ask the respondent to tell us about themselves. In many cases people are not asked this enough and giving them the space and opportunity to talk about them, their week and their life in general can be a cathartic and opening experience.

Research requiring respondents to think creativity

In creative focus groups where we are asking participants to discuss concepts or marketing messages the first ten minutes can help to build group dynamics and energy. In these scenarios, ice-breaker exercises can be really helpful in encouraging respondents to communicate amongst themselves, which will set-up the group for bouncing ideas off each other later in the session.

Ice-breakers should be accessible, light and above all simple!

One ice-breaker that is simple to execute is asking the participants to pair-up and then introduce each other including the answer to one question. This question should be easy to answer, non-intrusive and slightly related to the topic of the research. For example, for research amongst parents of children with diabetes the question may be how many children do you have and what are their ages?

Research with KOLs

With KOLs the first ten minutes can help make the participant feel as though their time is valued. This will encourage them to open up and contribute a greater leve of detail as the interview progresses.

In addition to asking the usual ‘please tell me about your research in…’ we find that KOLs respond positively to an additional personalised question. We do this through conducting secondary research into the KOL’s recent publications. This enables the moderator to ask a follow up question of: ‘I read your recent publications on… with interest could you tell me a bit more about…?’

We are passionate about finding the right methodologies to answer our client’s business questions, we look forward to scoping out your next project.