Monthly Archives: August 2012

Order your copy of Secrets of a Master Moderator by Naomi Henderson


Secrets of a Master Moderator: Book Review by Kay Corry Aubrey

RIVA Webinar: “Vested Moderators- Benefits and Drawbacks”

Just in case you missed our last webinar “Vested Moderators- Benefits and Drawbacks”, we will be offering this webinar again:

Friday, August 10, 2012

12:00 pm – 1:30 pm EST

Presenter: Naomi Henderson (CEO and Founder of RIVA Market Research and Training Institute)

This session will be discussing the following:

  • When should a vested moderator remove themselves from a project?
  • What drives the decision to use a vested vs. non-vested moderator?
  • What is the upside of using a vested moderator?
  • Tools, Tips, & Techniques for being vested and still doing a good job as a moderator.
  • Is there a downside to using a vested moderator?

Here is what past participants in this webinar session have had to say about their experience:

–          “The questions tied nicely into the presentation and were targeted to what was important about Vested Moderators.”

–          “I found the information about how to handle yourself in front of your associates to be helpful…”

–          “I will be looking for the next Webinar topic. Naomi is very inspiring…”

Webinar registrations are $75 per participant, please contact me ( if you would like to register for this session – space is limited!

What courses RIVA offers….

RIVA FQR, “Fundamentals of Qualitative Research”

RIVA FQR is a one day intensive and interactive seminar that is intended to provide researchers that use qualitative techniques in marketing, research, or meetings with a strong foundation in the underpinnings of qualitative research.

February 11, 2013
Register Online

RIVA Webinar – Re-Broadcast“About Vested Moderators – Benefits and Drawbacks” is being offered August 10, 2012 from 12-1:30 EST
Registration Fee: $75
To register email or Register Online. Registration closes at 12pm EST on Thursday, August 9, 2012.

RIVA 199,“Project Management & Screener Development”
RIVA 199 has been developed to help qualitative researchers to refine the administrative skills that make a project successful.
October 9, 2012 Register Online

RIVA 201,“Fundamentals of Moderating”
RIVA 201 provides an experiential training environment for students to learn about focus groups and their context of qualitative marketing research.Upcoming dates are below, please click on RIVA 201 link for additional training dates.

August 13-15, 2012 – WAITLIST ONLY
August 27-29, 2012
September 17-19, 2012 – 3 SEATS AVAILABLE
September 24-26, 2012
October 10-12, 2012

Register Online

RIVA 202,“Skill Acceleration”
RIVA 202 course provides an experiential training environment for working and experienced moderators who have not taken RIVA 201.
August 6-8, 2012 – 1 SEAT AVAILABLE
February 4-6, 2013 Register Online

RIVA 203,“Relearn, Recharge, Refresh Moderating Skills” 
RIVA 203 has been specially developed for our RIVA alums who are looking to revisit the 201 or 202 skills that have been learned. This course includes classroom instruction on improving guide questions and standard probes, as well as targets issues that have become challenges for working moderators. Recently included in the RIVA coaching program – this course allows for customized training in order to fit RIVA alum needs.
Contact – Custom Pricing Applies

RIVA 204,“All About Ethnography”
This course focuses on the skills needed in order to get unfiltered responses in “real time” with interviews in a home, business, or social setting.
April 15-17, 2013
Contact Register Online 

RIVA 241,“Qualitative Analysis & Reporting”
Taught by one of the founders – Naomi Henderson
October 15-16, 2012 Register Online

RIVA 242,“Qualitative Toolbox”
A 2-day experiential course for new moderators offers a training environment for students who seek to build more complex and non-traditional moderating styles through special tools and techniques. This course is typically offered once a year, but due to high demand we are offering it twice this year.
November 8-9, 2012 Register Online

RIVA 303,“Advanced Moderating”
The course provides advanced moderators with a review of current skills with feedback and coaching to reach higher levels of research.
September 10-12, 2012 Register Online

RIVA 501“Facilitation – Practical Tools, Tips, & Techniques” is a practical three-day course, rather than a course based on theory or academics. RIVA’s promise to graduates of this course is that you will be equipped with practical and actionable steps in order to facilitate a meeting moving the needle from problem to solution as the leader of that session.
March 18-20, 2013 Register Online


Maintain research rigor not research rigidity

There are key requirements in survey research that require a strong measure of research rigidity as any deviation changes the outcome of the study. For example, every question should be asked of every respondent, honoring the correct path through skip patterns. As well, the interviewer is not supposed to rephrase any questions, or offer additional options for answering.  As well, there are strict sanctions against making each interview a “unique experience.” Conformity and exact replication is the name of the game in survey research.

By contrast qualitative research embraces the unique quality of individuals. Questions can be reframed on the spot, techniques are used to inspire respondents to think about things in new ways, and in focus group settings respondents are praised for building on the comments of others.

In some ways a survey study is similar to seeing a train on a track and making sure the train stays on the track from station to station. Qualitative research may start out like a train on a track, but passengers can always choose to get off, ride a horse for part of the journey, step aboard a boat for a water ride, or just walk from point to point. There are many different ways to get to the next station on the journey.

A good moderator learns to manage the different forms of transportation [train, horse, boat, etc.] and stay with respondents as they go on the journey outlined by the moderator’s questions. The best moderators are at ease doing the following:

  • Knowing when to probe and when to move on
  • Knowing when to “live with the silence” while respondents are thinking
  • Knowing when to stand down when the topic gets too personal or invasive
  • Asking questions out of order because of the energy created in a line of discussion
  • Trusting their own judgment to explore a tangent because they know that area is of interest to the long range thinking of the client team
  • Knowing when to cut off an unproductive tangent
  • Managing the time line, so key questions get asked; being ok with the possibility that every group will not be asked every question

The necessary rigidity required to be good as a survey interviewer is deadly when applied to qualitative interviewing. Similar to an eagle that soars with the updrafts in a canyon, so must the good moderator rise on the wind of the discussion.  However, there needs to be research rigor in the process of interviewing and that includes:

  1. Following the four stages of an interview in order [Introduction; Rapport and Reconnaissance; In–depth Investigation; Closure]
  2. Moving from general to specific questions
  3. Probing for clarity
  4. Finding ways to get below top-of-mind answers
  5. Providing opportunities for respondents to think about topics in new ways

In summary, this is what is required to be a good moderator:  A framework of research rigor that honors the boundaries of qualitative interviewing, but not straying over to the research rigidity that is required for survey interviewing.

Final Thoughts:

Some final elements to remember about being a good researcher in your next project:

  1. You can always do better than in the past
  2. You have a new opportunity to demonstrate “mastery” In every group you lead
  3. Serve this client’s needs in this moment – truly being present and of service at this point in time and more opportunities will present themselves to do it again.
  4. Have research rigor, not research rigidity