How to Create a Discussion Guide


When conducting market research, you need to choose the right method to gain valuable information from your target market. There are various ways to collect data from spreading questionnaires to carrying out an in-depth interview. For those who don’t have experience in conducting an in-depth interview, you can use this in-depth interview guide. 

What is a Discussion Guide in Market Research?

In qualitative market research, you need to gather various information from the respondents. Discussion guides can be used in Focus Group Discussion, In-Depth Interview, or other types of qualitative market research. In the discussion guide, researchers would prepare a list of questions or instructions for the respondents. 

What is the Purpose of a Discussion Guide?

A well-structured discussion guide can help you get the most out of the interviews. Imagine if you are holding a 1-hour interview, but when you summarize the results, there are many redundant answers and things that you haven't asked yet. In addition, a discussion guide can also prevent you from asking a leading question that can provoke biased answers or asking things that are not relevant to your discussion topic.

How to Create a Discussion Guide?

When crafting a discussion guide, the most important thing would be the structure of your guide. 

1. Introduction

Jumping to ask depth questions to the respondents can make them feel uncomfortable. Help them get accustomed to the interview and yourself as an interviewer. 

These are several things that you can say to get the respondents more comfortable. 

  1. Introduce yourself and express your gratitude for them taking part in the interview. 
  2. Present the reasons and purposes behind your research. 
  3. State how long the interview would be. 
  4. If their answer would be quite sensitive and personal, reassure them that the answer will be confidential and won’t be shared with the public without their permission. By doing this, they can answer the question truthfully without being held by anyone. 

2. General Exploration

Even if you have a list of questions that you want to ask, don’t immediately jump into the details. Start with a general question to introduce your topic first. For example, if you want to ask about respondents’ thought on your website, you can ask something like, 

“What makes a great website?” or “What information are you looking for when visiting a website?”

3. Detailed Question

After that, you can dive into the main questions. To make it easier for your respondents, you can divide the question into several sections such as : 

  1. Overall Reaction – general overview of the topic. For example, if you want to know about the respondents’ experience when using your website, you can ask “what do you think about our website design?”, “Is it easy to use our website?”, and other questions.  
  2. Detailed Reaction – these types of questions focus on the specific features or aspects of your topics to gain more in-depth insight. 
  3. Room for Improvement – identify specific problems and aspects that need improvements to meet your customers’ needs and expectations. 

4. Summary

To make it more interactive and dynamic, you can ask the respondents a few prompts. 

Maybe something like this “From this 1-hour session, what three things that we should improve from our product?”

Tips on How to Create a Discussion Guide 

A discussion guide can determine the success rate of your qualitative research. It is better to spend hours preparing a discussion guide rather than let a 1-hour interview fall through as you don’t ask the right questions. As a reference, use these tips on how to create a discussion guide. 

1. Focus on the Objective

When crafting the questions for your discussion guide, always keep your research aims and objectives on the top of your mind. 

2. More Simple is Better

The focus in the discussion guide is your respondents. Rather than make the questions too lengthy, it is better to keep it simple so it doesn’t divert your attention from the respondents’ answers. If by any chance you need more data, you can elaborate on it later in the discussion. 

3. Pre-test

You need to hold a rehearsal before the main event and it also applies in the interview or focus group discussion where you need to conduct a pre-test to test your guide. You can test the guide with your teams or colleagues. 

4. Start from the Big Picture

In crafting the question, you can start from the broader topics to a more specific topic. By doing this, your guide can flow naturally and be easier to understand. 

5. Structured Guide

When creating a guide, it is important to always keep a well-organized list of questions. Imagine yourself as the respondent. Does the next question make any correlation with the previous question? Would the transition from one question to another one feel smooth? Ensure that your guides are well-organized and placed logically. 

Example of Discussion Guide

Let’s use this as an example. The topic is about purchasing on the”X” ecommerce platform. As a researcher, the outline for the guide may be like this : 

  1. Introduction, paperwork, and explanation about the rules for discussion. 
  2. Background of the respondents
  3. General knowledge about e-commerce in Indonesia
  4. Purchasing style and factors that affect their decision. 
  5. Various topics about the “X” ecommerce platform. 
  6. Wrap up the discussion

If you are wondering how to create a discussion guide that is powerful and effective, ask people that have done it before. If you don’t have enough time and resources, you can use third-party services from a market research company. In Deka Insight, we will work closely with your internal team to make a discussion guide that really works and can help your market research process.