It has been an autumn filled with live musical performance for me. I recently had a transformational experience as an audience member among hundreds and hundreds of New Yorkers at the David Gray concert at Madison Square Garden’s theater. I began to see how a concert is a lot like a qualitative research group. We gather otherwise unrelated respondents who have certain specifications (a passion for David Gray’s lyrical genius) in common to explore various topics (or witness an unexpectedly exuberant performance) and generate new insights (and inspiration).
Before the concert, I assumed I had little in common with the people around me. I have never lived in a large city though I am learning that, at heart, I am a city girl by nature. By the bittersweet end of the second encore, the audience and I were connected in our discoveries and left having been part of a collective experience.
Focus group respondents must feel awkward in the waiting room, wondering how their views resonate or depart from others in the session. As a moderator, it is my job and my joy to create a comfortable, collective, memorable experience in which we all leave with a little more understanding of the objectives and even ourselves.