Pre-Tasking is Critical to Online Qualitative Research
Successful IDIs and Focus groups rely on participants being candid and forthcoming, so establishing trust and building rapport is critical to a session's success. The problem is it's not easy to build trust with someone you just met in a 30-90 minute interview session, especially when it's conducted via Zoom. Traditional in-person focus groups and in-depth interviews are conducted in facilities carefully designed to help respondents feel physically and emotionally comfortable. Moderators deploy various techniques to get acquainted quickly and establish a comfort zone where respondents will share freely and participate fully. But time is of the essence, as the effort spent putting participants at ease eats into valuable discussion time. It can be more challenging to make meaningful connections over video vs. in-person, so making an effort to get to know your participants ahead of any online qual is time well spent. This is why pre-tasking is so critical to online qualitative research; it allows researchers to break the ice and get acquainted with their participants ahead of the main session. Not only does pre-tasking help moderators get to know participants, but it also provides them with a vivid lens into the respondent's "real life" and offers a backstory to the information they'll share in the interview or focus group.