How to INSPIRE online qual participants with your intro

Tom Woodnutt

Tom Woodnutt

Feeling Mutual

Tom Woodnutt is Founder of Feeling Mutual, the agile online and mobile qualitative research specialists. He helps clients and agencies run global studies and offers training in the space. Tom has been a Digital Skills trainer for the Association of Qualitative Researchers (AQR) and is a regular speaker at industry conferences, including the MRS, MRMW and IleX.

First impressions count so it’s important to get your introduction right if you want to get the most out of your online qual participants. The introduction is the first thing they will read when they enter the project, so what you say and how you say it can have a big impact on group dynamics thereafter. In a word, you have to inspire the new participants, which by sheer coincidence also happens to be a snappy acronym.

INSPIRE stands for:


Minimise the influence participants have over each other by emphasising that they should always share their individual opinions and not be afraid to disagree (or indeed agree) with each other. This should reduce group-think and help you get personal views.


Reiterate what you need the participants to do in terms of the quantity, quality and frequency of feedback required. Encourage them to be open and introspective and to explain the emotional reasons behind their responses.


Ensure participants know the significance of the study to you and your client, so that they know that their opinion really matters. Remind them that what they say could have a direct impact on what your client ends up doing.


Always be polite and charming in the way you talk to participants. This can be as simple as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ or, if appropriate, you could inject some humour and personality.


Remind participants that they will only get paid if they complete all the required questions in the time outlined. Offer a prize to the most insightful participants and allocate additional incentives to high effort tasks such as making mobile videos.


Don’t be afraid to share something personal. People are more likely to disclose personal information and insights if you do it first. So put a photo (or even video) to your name, and tell the group a bit about who you are.


Give participants a license to express themselves. People often relish the chance to express themselves creatively or simply by sharing their feelings and beliefs. Tap into this instinct by asking questions which inspire them to do so.

If you follow these seven guidelines and inspire your participants in the introduction to online qual research projects, they should be fully on board and engaged and you’ll get better responses as a result.

If you’d like to find out more strategies and tactics for inspiring participants in online qual and mobile projects join us for the next Masterminds training session. Email tom@feelingmutual.com for further details.

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