A handful of recommendations for writing effective remote moderated research scripts that result in happier test participants and valuable insight.

Our team spends countless hours helping people optimise their research designs for remote moderated research or any ad-hoc qualitative projects that lay ahead.

Although a lot of our guidance is for complex questions that only relate to a customer’s specific context, there are a handful of rules relating to tone-of-voice and audience engagement that everyone can apply at all times.

When used correctly, the following tips can result in better responses and more comfortable participants.

Talk like a person, not a corporation

Remove any potential ‘corporate’ jargon that implies laziness and a lack of thinking, such as ‘tell us what you think’. These are not good at building a sense of community since they can make the moderator appear distant and disengaged.

Engage, question, probe

When constructing a question, lead with an explanation of the objectives, then supply the question, and finally weave in more information as and when you probe or comment on their activity.

Building the conversation in this way helps to establish the participant’s confidence and expands their response with greater ease and enjoyment.

Talk to people, not at them

Communicate with your participants as you would in everyday life. Write in the first person and show that you are a real person who will acknowledge and support them through the project.

Knowing there is someone, a real person, listening and responding helps create a sense of camaraderie and builds relationships.

Combine open and closed questions

We always encourage our customers to be creative and write research questions that allows the respondents to creatively express themselves using the range of tools available.

But at the same time, we emphasize the need to combine open and closed questions to provide a change of pace and offer some respite.


Learn when moderated or unmoderated testing is the right choice for you!

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Everything in moderation


Don’t be afraid to offer your opinion during the course of a task

You’re likely to be asking for the opinions of your participants throughout the life of your research project, so don’t be afraid to offer your own opinions as a way of encouragement.

However, this is research so don’t bias the response, only offer up your opinion to help lift the level of response and get deeper into the conversations.

Use a narrative

When constructing your questions or discussion, try and write it as though it were a story, with a clear beginning, middle and end.

By this we mean frame the question. Tell them why you are asking the question, and why you want their feedback, then reveal the question or task, and finally explain what you will do with their response.

Remote moderated research gives you the opportunity to share feedback in a constructive way. This is a great way of retaining attention and motivating ongoing participation since your participants feel as though they are genuinely contributing to something meaningful.

Be yourself, interact

Despite not being with your participants in person, it is still possible to come across as a genuine person who cares passionately about the subject and who is going to be supportive.

Try to interact with respondents as much as possible through ‘commenting’, even if it’s simply to say ‘thanks for your response’. The more effort you put into this, the more relaxed, open and natural your participants’ communication will be.


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Main image by @bonniekdesign