Working With Groups

In many cases, it will be a group of stakeholders who are involved in a stakeholder interview rather than a single stakeholder. Situations like this still require that note-takers record questions and responses, but they become more complicated because there may be multiple responses, sometimes contradictory, that you will need to paraphrase and summarize for each question.

There are three key points to keep in mind when taking notes during a group interview:

Create a key. It’s important to have a quick and easy method to distinguish different speakers. While you won't be identifying anybody by name, and you won't always need to attribute specific comments to the individuals who said them, you will at times need to show that specific comments were made by different people. For example, if the interviewer asks each stakeholder for an example to illustrate a previous point, you will want to capture each of those examples separately. You may find it helpful at the beginning of the inteview to create a quick key or other guide, such as a grid, to help you quickly distinguish one stakeholder from another.

Observe the focus group’s dynamics. Think about how the various stakeholders relate to one another and take special note of places where there seem to be disagreements. If one person seems to be dominating the discussion, that’s worth capturing in your notes. Record your observations with your normal summary and paraphrase, but distinguish these notes from the rest by setting them off in parentheses or brackets.

Capture polling questions. These are questions that the interviewer uses to survey the entire group for a quick reply—for example, “Raise your hand if you agree with X.” As with any other follow-up question, you must capture the question as it’s asked, but you must also capture each individual’s reply.