connections chapter news

May 2014
Vol. 13, Number 4

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News

Minnesota Chapter Meeting: “How to Be a Fearless Facilitator”

Jean Nordgren,

Cyndi Maxey recently shared her expertise and newly released book, Fearless Facilitation, with Minnesota Chapter members at their April 7 meeting held at Focus Market Research in Minneapolis. Cyndi is a communications consultant based in Chicago, who works with clients on developing effective presentation and facilitation skills. She is a Certified Speaking Professional and the author of six books. This was her second visit to the chapter, as she shared insights on presentation skills with the chapter several years ago.

While some Minnesota Chapter members routinely promote their facilitation services, others do not. In this Fearless Facilitation presentation, Cyndi provided tips and techniques to help members feel more comfortable “working without a net” as facilitators, and she provided insights on applying moderating skills and expertise to facilitation opportunities. New QRCA member Kristen Gupta-Turnbull shared, “I know facilitating always makes me nervous, and so I'm grateful for additional training on it.”  

Cyndi emphasized the importance of engaging participants in a facilitated discussion. She demonstrated the “Breaking the Fourth Wall” technique where the facilitator steps out of the speaker role by asking questions to become one with the audience. Member Nancy Brown said, “I think we know a lot of the info, but her focus on engaging the audience is so important. It cannot be emphasized enough.”

Some of the techniques Cyndi demonstrated were more appropriate for facilitated discussions than for focus groups. One of these was the panel of experts, where Cyndi pulled three meeting participants up to the front of the room to serve as a panel of experts. Panelists were chosen based on QRCA experience—longest member, newest member and most active. The panel answered Cyndi’s questions, and then Cyndi encouraged the rest of the group to ask the panel questions. This created an affinity for audience members represented by the panel—a powerful facilitation tool, indeed.

Some of Cyndi’s facilitation techniques would also be effective in focus groups. For example, she presents content in 8-12 minute chunks, and then changes the intervention. She also suggests that when setting up a facilitated exercise, the facilitator must be gentle, provide information in steps, and make the instructions very “clean.” This advice is applicable for any focus group exercise. Additionally, her suggestion of assigning partners to participants and having them do something quickly together works well for both facilitated discussions and focus groups.

The Minnesota members were grateful for Cyndi sharing her expertise, and to the Minnesota Chapter for providing attendees with Cyndi’s new book, Fearless Facilitation.

Cyndi Maxey presented at the recent Minnesota Chapter Meeting

Cyndi Maxey and member Nancy Brown

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A Virtual Technology Demonstration for the OH/IN/KY Chapter

Kathleen Glandorf,

On April 11, the OH/IN/KY Chapter was fortunate to see a demonstration of a Full Scale Virtual Research (FSVR) wall, presented by John Milby, owner of Full Scale Virtual Research. This touchscreen wall has enough flexibility to make even a serious techno-geek happy. The wall is 12 feet by 9 feet in size and can feature a 3-section shelving run in life-sized scale. “Shoppers” can select a product, turn it around, read the label, and either return it to the shelf or “purchase” the item. The screen is not moveable so currently research must be done in the Cincinnati location, but a new Chicago location will open soon and the company is looking at opening in the NY/NJ area by 2015. 

Along with the wall, Full Scale Virtual Research also has the capability to conduct eye-tracking research. Member Michelle Ellis served as a guinea pig for a demonstration of this powerful system that can be used for a wide range of products and designs.

John Milby, owner of Full Scale Virtual Research, presents the company’s wall at the recent OH/IN/KY meeting.

Michelle Ellis models the eye-tracking device demonstrated at the meeting.

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Philadelphia Chapter Explores Diary Studies, Co-creation, and the Future of Healthcare Consumer Qualitative Research

Nason W. Russ,

On April 4, the Philadelphia Chapter held a spectacular meeting, graciously hosted by Focus Suites in Bala Cynwyd, PA. The quality of the speakers and the energy in the room were palpable, and not just because three local members were speaking!  The topics were relevant, well presented, and highly informative.

The day started out with Abby Leafe presenting “Dear Diary: Practical Guide to Meaningful Respondent Journals.” Abby drew upon her extensive experience conducting journal and diary studies (which have lasted from several days to several months!) to give attendees a “how to” on this extremely useful methodology in which respondents track a particular behavior, feeling, or time of day. For those in the room who were new to diary studies (and for old hands at it) Abby clearly laid out the nitty-gritty, including:

  • Why and when to include a journal as part of a research study
  • Choosing the right platform (paper vs. online vs. mobile)
  • The format in which data is collected—handwriting, drawings, typed comments, videos, voice, photos, etc.
  • Best practices for structuring the actual diary
  • Dealing with timing, recruiting, logistics, and reporting

After lunch, Laurie Tema-Lyn test-drove her presentation for the Worldwide Conference on Qualitative Research in Budapest: “Going to the Source: Working Directly with Consumers to Inspire & Advance Product Ideas.” The talk focused on Consumer Collaboration (also called “co-creation”) methods for early stages of new product or positioning work (e.g. Concept Inspiration), and on Concept Advancement (feedback, and building and refining concepts and prototypes). Laurie cleverly integrated several co-creation case studies, including ones from American Standard (the faucet and toilet folks) and Perrier, to illustrate design approaches and guidelines for conducting this innovative research. As Laurie pointed out, while there are lots of balls to juggle—recruiting appropriate respondents, managing clients and client expectations, bringing in outside experts, and getting buy-in from the R&D/product development folks—this methodology can be a load of fun!

Karen Hyver finished up the day by moderating a discussion titled “Healthcare Consumer Qualitative Research—Will it Blossom or Die on the Vine?” She started her talk by reviewing highlights from speakers at February's Pharmaceutical Market Research Conference (PMRC 2014). Karen then opened the floor for discussion, and it was lively! Topics ranged from patient communities to big data to current challenges in dealing with clients to what pharmaceutical marketing research will look like in the future. It was good food for thought as members left to face the “real (and certainly changing) world.”

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