We wanted to share some tips on how to deal with different respondent types when facilitating group discussions. Here are the first two:

# 1 – The floor-hogger
This participant just loves to talk – about themselves!
Whilst they will have valid opinions, you don’t want them to dominate the room or sway the discussions. Some tactics you can use are:

  • Actively ask others in the group for their opinions.
  • Remind them that it is your job to make sure everyone has their say (as laid out in the ground rules, which you agreed at the start.)
  • Angle your body away from them slightly.
  • Give them a specific task to do e.g. flip charting.
  • In extreme situations, raise your hand to them to encourage them to stop!


#2 – The silent type
Not all participants will be comfortable talking in a focus group. It is just as important to encourage them to contribute as it is to manage the input of the louder participants. To help silent focus group members you should:

  • Address the issue as early as possible – the longer you leave it the harder it will be to bring that person back into the discussion.
  • Make eye contact, angle your body towards them and address them using their first name.
  • Remind the group that there are no right or wrong answers and that it is important for you to hear everybody’s views.
  • Try to actively encourage their participation by picking up on a specific viewpoint they can offer e.g. ask them their views from the perspective as a young person/ woman/ mother/ grandparent [where relevant].
  • Set up a pairs exercise to enable them to contribute in a less public way.

You can read about the other three types of tricky characters on our following blog article.

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