Those who are moving online for the first time to work, or to run online video research groups, or any kind of video and audio group for that matter, you will need to shift your thinking significantly!
I feel that a lot of people still are not getting it! Firstly, there is no magic button you can turn on which will replicate face to face interaction online, not unless someone has invented a holodeck (sorry Star Trek reference to holographic video) and it is business as usual.
Let’s talk about the hot topic, especially in market and social research – video focus groups.
The reality is that the Australian NBN can handle a lot more demand; however, the distribution and retail suppliers may not have the infrastructure in place to meet that demand. We are going to see the growth in online usage in a few months to the level that most suppliers were not going to expect for another five or even ten years down the track.
You will need to adjust and learn quickly and you will need to prepare for issues.
The common issue will include:
- Participants, moderators and clients not knowing how to turn on cameras and microphones.
- Feedback whistling because the participants do not have access to earphones or have not worked out how to send sound to the earpiece and not the speakers.
- Drop-outs and drop-ins of video and audio
- Freezing images on screen but sound still coming through.
- Degraded and pixelated video images.
- That terrible echo noise because the microphone is not correctly noise-cancelling.
- The bigger your video groups, the more degraded the quality of the video and audio – more for some than others!
- Distractions from family and house noises.
- Poor lighting and you can not see the face of the person on the other side of the camera.
- You will face the issue with bandwidth in the coming months as the demand continues to grow.
Some other options to help limit the issues experienced:
- Use a video tool that has a plugin that sits on your computer or in your browser.
- You will need to learn how to troubleshoot your technology and in some instances, the technology of others.
- Prepare participants properly and test with them the technical setup.
- Adjust your discussion guide, and this will inevitably occur if you do the above!
- Prepare and test and then test again!
- Get some help if you are lost.
- Lower your expectations. You will not get an HD 4k studio-quality production unless you have everyone in a studio!
- Consider alternatives such as online chat focus groups or online discussion boards