Can we talk?
Let me start off by saying that I thoroughly enjoy what I do on a daily basis. What I get to do every day is chat with interesting people about interesting topics. I get to learn about people, what makes them tick, what excites them, and what might keep them up at night. As a former pharmaceutical sales representative, I never imagined a career that would allow me an opportunity to have interesting conversations for a living.
I have never considered myself a “moderator” per se but more of a person that gets to have interesting conversations about a variety of topics. If I get to have a conversation with people versus making them feel like it’s 20 questions then I’m hopeful I can have a candid and real conversation. Everyone has their own style when it comes to moderating and having conversations, mine just happens to be more conversational in nature.
Here a few things I’ve picked up along the way to make it worthwhile and enjoyable for the respondent, the client, and myself:
Depending on the topic and the tone of the conversation, a little laughter can go a long way in developing a quick rapport with the respondent.
Some of my clients like to incorporate “listening games” into an interview. This is especially helpful at the end of the week when people might start to check out mentally!
Have a chat
A conversation is a two-way street not just one person asking all of the questions. Share ideas and other conversations along the way to facilitate a dialogue.
What you DO NOT hear, is just as an important as what you DO hear
Often, we are looking for respondents to tell us something and provide a reaction. However, I am always interested in the absence of a response and what was not said. What people do not say can be just as important as what they do say.
If you are doing the exact same thing at the end of the week as the beginning of the week, something has gone horribly wrong!
What I enjoy about qualitative research is its iterative nature. Capitalize on your learning and develop new hypotheses along the way.
Don’t be afraid to flip the script
What allows me to have more effective conversations is when I have a firm understanding of the business problem at hand. I use a discussion guide to frame the objectives and the general flow. However, I am not afraid to deviate from the guide if I feel it may yield something useful.