Learn about the importance of group discussions in selection process

Many times one needs to initiate a group discussion. The classroom teacher, employer, and counselor (personal or camp) are just a few of the individuals needing topics for group discussion. In this article, we begin by looking at focused group discussion – what it is and how to conduct one. Then we provide you with questions and activities to help you conduct successful group discussions. Finally, we provide some guidelines for creating questions for successful group discussions.

Length of the Focused Group Discussion

Sixty minutes is suggested for your focused group discussion in order to fully explore your discussion topic. However, the focused group discussion should last no longer than ninety minutes as participants lose interest and the discussion becomes unproductive if the session lasts longer.

Choose Participants for the Focused Group Discussion

Focus Group Discussion generally involves two to eight people. If you think some participants may not show up, invite one or two extra participants. Just be sure your group does not become too large. If participants must skip work to participate in the focused group discussion, consider paying a participation fee.

Your goal should be creating homogeneity for your focused group discussion, so that participants feel comfortable expressing their opinions. To do so, consider the following when choosing participants:

Group Discussion Activities

Discussion activities, also referred to as formats, help guide participants through a group discussion. Our comprehensive list helps participants gather information, solve problems, and share their ideas and knowledge. Some of the following activities require preparation prior to the group discussion. We have listed those first. Use one or more of the following to enhance the group discussion experience.

Activities Requiring Preparation Prior to the Group Discussion

Some activities require pre-work or preparation by the facilitator to make sure participants have effective group discussions. The following activities require some type of pre-planning.


Focused group discussions gather people from similar backgrounds or experiences to discuss a specific topic of interest. They are effective for exploring thoughts, feeling, needs, and perceptions; understanding survey results and opinions; discovering factors influencing decisions; and facilitating interactions. The successful focused group discussion has a knowledgeable, prepared facilitator, a well-defined topic, appropriate activities, and pertinent discussion questions. This article provides everything you need for a successful focused group discussion. Now that you are prepared, schedule your focused group discussion with confidence.

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