Five essentials for delivering engaging virtual research

4th March 2021

If someone had asked you a year ago to take part in five or more video calls a day most of us would've laughed, now with virtual research seemingly the norm for some time to come we have to ensure that we're providing value to clients and keeping participants engaged. Online research doesn't need to be a paired back version of face to face but we do have to think more creatively about how to keep attendees focussed and inspired.

Production quality - No, we're not shooting a feature length action movie but good lighting, sound and picture is massively important to a successful research session. We want to avoid participants losing focus or having their discussion interrupted by sound quality dipping in and out for example, so having a test run is good practice. It's also paramount that as session leader that we can see you. Find the best spot in your workspace with a clear background, adjust the lighting and off you go!

Compelling content - Talking at a screen for an hour or more is no mean feat but listening for that amount of time is a task too! Make sure your session is broken up with relevant visuals that invite interaction and engagement on the topic in hand. You don't need to be all singing and dancing but having some multimedia content will also give you a chance to step back from the 'spotlight' momentarily and assess whether to adjust the discussion accordingly.

Some social cues can be blurred when we're interacting virtually. Setting out some guidelines either ahead of the session or at the beginning means that participants can contribute freely without second guessing but at the same time, without interrupting their peers. On Zoom, could you make use of the 'hands up' option, or will you be calling on people by name to invite them to talk? You could also take the opportunity to utilise the 'chat box' feature.
Be wary of session length - there are lots of ways to break up a heavy research session by setting out a roadmap before you begin, informing the participants of what's going to come after each part of the focus group or interview and what's expected of them at each section. Make the most of break out rooms, give the group the chance to virtually stretch their legs and break the ice can work wonders!


The use of gamification in market research has increased significantly in recent years. It has been found that the visual impact and the enjoyment of interacting this way increases the quantity and quality of the response. Could you introduce a quick fire round, or a points system, fastest finger first brainstorm to set your participants brains whirring?

For information on how we can bring your research to life in a virtual world and to arrange a discovery call with a member of the team please email us at 


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