Run a focus group

Organise discussions with girls and young women in your unit to find out their opinions

Focus groups are a great interactive way to consult our young members

These sessions are structured as an organised discussion where girls have the chance to share their views, opinions and experiences on a particular topic. Focus groups are an effective way for girls to get their voices heard and to inform decision-making that affects them. They can also be a lot of fun!

They are useful for planning activities and events as well as developing more ‘background’ areas of guiding, such as a county’s vision and strategy.

How to run a focus group

1. Your planning

Find an independent facilitator - the facilitator should ideally be someone the girls do not know. They will feel more able to give honest answers and constructive feedback if they are not worried about how people will react.

Think about different learning styles and abilities - consider all the girls in your group when choosing activities. Use a variety of ways to record information such as writing, drawing and talking.

Keep age ranges narrow - it's easier to make the session accessible to everyone when the age range isn't too broad. A focus group should include no more than two sections, for example, Rainbows and Brownies together.

Choose a comfortable environment - this will help the girls and young women in the group to feel relaxed.

Stand-alone session or event - you can organise a stand-alone session or combine it with another event. It can be easier to get participants at an event but make sure that all girls know how to put themselves forward to take part.

2. During the discussion

Use open questions - allow girls to explain why they gave a particular answer. Girls should build on each others' ideas and learn from each others' experiences while also having their say. It's fine to use some closed questions where the answer is chosen from among a few options too.

Keep girls engaged - include plenty of interactive activities to keep girls stimulated. Activities should be tailored to the age of the group. Make sure you set up smaller groups for younger girls so that they each have an opportunity to speak.

Make sure you consider ways for quieter girls in the group to contribute too.

Capture all information and thoughts - do this by asking someone to take notes for you or recording the conversation and transcribing it later. When you record discussions you'll need to get participants’ permission to use the information. Remember to let them know how long you'll be using it for, as well as to test your equipment beforehand.

3. Using the outcomes

Identify key messages - review and prioritise everything that comes out of the consultation to enable you to take the topic forward.

Give feedback to the group - tell them what will be done with the information they have provided and how it will be used. You could also update girls later when you've acted on the consultation or if you can't contact them directly ask their leader to send information on.

Get girls involved

Search for participation-based activities to engage the girls in your unit and put them in the lead.