How to moderate Focus GroupMR groups

Focus GroupMR groups require active moderation throughout in order to get maximum value from the session.

At the time of your focus group you need to open the group – this does not open automatically. To do this, on the upcoming focus groups, press the ‘enter’ icon . Only the person who has been set as the Moderator can open the group.

Running a Text-Based Focus Group

Once you have opened your focus group you will be taken to the focus group window.

To start with, all participants will be ‘muted’ as default (they won’t be able to type a message) so that the Moderator can introduce the group without interruption.

Allow the participants to comment in the discussion by selecting ‘Public’ next to the participants’ screennames in the members list box. Setting a participant to 'Private' means all of their messages will go to the moderator only; no other participants will see their messages. The participant who is set to 'Private' will be aware of this - they will see a message above their chat box saying 'Your next message will be sent to the group moderator'.

If you wish to remove a participant from the group, click on the 'X' icon next to their name. The below pop up notification will come up, allowing you to click 'Yes' to remove them from the group, or 'No' to keep them in the group.


Once a participant has joined a focus group their screenname will change from being shown in grey text, to bold black text.

A red dot next to a participant’s name indicates that they are typing.

The moderator can type in the box at the bottom of the 'chat' tab or use the 'insert pre-written questions' to upload pre-loaded questions into the group chat box. By clicking 'Send message' the text will appear for all participants to read. The moderator can use the tabs along the members box to run Smartboard tasks and show polls. They can also show & add any stimuli using the box in the bottom right of the screen.

Uploading media during a live focus group

Media can be uploaded during a live text based or video focus group. To add media to a live focus group such as pictures, videos, audio files, and embed YouTube videos, click on the 'Stimuli' button during your live focus group:


Clicking on the Stimuli button will bring up a menu as shown in the screenshot below. Then, select the 'Type' of Stimuli you wish to upload. Clicking on each of the Stimuli types will show some guidance text below in grey to advise on the file format etc.

Following this, select your file using the 'Select file' button. Then add a description and click 'Add Stimulus'


Once the stimuli has finished uploading, you will then see 'Show'. Click on this to show the stimuli to the group.


Please note: We do advise to upload Stimuli, particularly Videos, before the focus group starts.

Running a Video Focus Group

Please note, video focus groups must not exceed 120 minutes in total (from when the moderator clicks the 'start video session' button). We recommend video focus groups are run for 60-90 minutes.

Once you have opened your focus group you will be taken to the focus group window where you will see the ‘Chat’ tab first. This will be the same for participants when they first enter the group.

Please see the section above 'Running a Text-Based Focus Group' for more information about the chat tab.

When the participants have joined and everyone is ready, please click on ‘Start video session’. Please do not click the ‘Start video session’ button and then exit/close the group, at least 1 webcam must be enabled once this button has been clicked (even if just the moderators) for the session to shut-down properly once closed.

To activate your webcam, please go to the ‘My Video Feed’ tab and click the 'enable button' in the bottom left of the tab. 

On the 'My Video Feed' tab, participants will see the text 'Waiting for session' until the moderator starts the video session. When the moderator has started the video session, the text will change to 'Not Publishing' until the participant has enabled their camera.

You may be asked by your browser for permission to use and share the camera and microphone with the site; this should be granted. You will then see your feed in the 'My Video Feed' tab.

You can then go into the ‘Video’ tab to see the video feeds from the participants and begin your group discussion. Participants should also be encouraged to click the 'Video' tab to see all of the members in the group.

All 3 tabs will be available for use throughout the discussion for everyone in the group.

During the group, if you are in one of the video tabs (such as 'Video' or 'My Video Feed') and there are new posts within the 'chat' tab, a red dot will appear on this tab:


If the moderator or a participant mutes their microphone, leaves the group, then re-joins the group, their microphone will no longer be muted and the audio will continue recording.

As the moderator, you have controls over participant video and audio. This allows you to toggle their video and/or audio on or off. To do this, click on the slider icons as shown in the screenshot below:


Moderation within Focus Group Smartboards

Smartboards are currently only available in text-based focus groups, this cannot be used where video is switched on within the group.

  • Click the Smartboard tab and select ‘enter’. All the participants will be redirected to the smartboard screen.
  • A red box around the edge of the marker highlights that this is a new comment, once you have read the comment it turns back to yellow.
  • Both the Moderator and the Housekeeper can reply to individual comments in the smartboards but we would advise putting your prompts and probes in the main discussion window as this ensures you can get everyone’s feedback and don’t spend too much time waiting for individuals to come back to you.

 Moderating Show of Hands Polls

Click on the ‘Polls’ link to choose from pre-prepared polls by selecting ‘show’ or to create a new ‘Focus group poll’.

When polls are shown during the group, members can select their answer and click 'vote'. The moderator can hover over the person icon at the top of the box to keep track of who has and has not voted on the poll.

When everyone has voted the moderator can choose to close the poll and move on with the discussion, or the moderator can show the results of the polls to the group for further discussion.

To show the poll results, go to ‘polls’ and select ‘show result’. The results will then show as a chart in the polls tab in the top right hand corner of the screen.

Closing the group 

At the end of the group, click ‘Close Focus Group’ this will force all users out of the group and return them to the homepage.

If you are using video for your focus group, please remember that at least 1 webcam must be enabled once the ‘Start video session’ button has been clicked (even if just the moderators) for the session to shut-down properly once closed. 

If you have run a video chat, closing the group will also stop all recording and allow the video to be processed ready for you to extract from the site.

You won’t be able to go back into this group so please make sure you have fully completed all the questions you wish to ask before closing it.