In this post, we’ll give you six street team tips and pass on some lessons our teams have learned over years of conducting research.

Street teams can gather impactful data, but we also know from experience how unnerving it can be to go up to a stranger and start asking them questions. Follow our six tips to get the data you’re looking for and to minimize street teamer stress.

Street Teams are quick, face-to-face interviews with the general public or a target group that often take place out in public or on the street.

Overlap uses street teams in our human-centred design work to reach out to people and communities. With just 4-7 questions, we can find out what an individual’s needs are within their community or gather valuable insights into a selected topic.

📚 Learn more about street teams and when you should use them in Are Street Teams the Right Research Tool For You?


Street Team Tips


1. Rip the Band-Aid

The first couple of people you talk to are the toughest.

It can feel strange, and that’s okay. Some people won’t want to talk to you. Don’t let that get you down. Jump in because once you get started, you’ll find people’s answers interesting and insightful. After the street team Band-Aid is ripped off, you’ll be able to relax, and you may even find you enjoy the experience.


2. Introduce Yourself

After you’ve introduced who you are, and why you’re looking for input, you should be prepared to answer a few questions.

Make sure you fully understand what the project is, and why you’re asking for this person’s input. We find it helpful to send our street teamers out with a potential script. Feel free to adapt the language in your script so that it feels natural and comfortable for you while keeping true to the intended message.


3. Don’t Prime

Priming is when someone’s thoughts are influenced by what they recently experienced.

If you ask them what makes them feel safe in their neighbourhood, don’t follow up by saying, “for example, lighting or good neighbours”, because you’re more likely to hear answers related to lighting and good neighbours. Just ask them the question and…


4. Be Patient

Silence isn’t your enemy—give the person time to think about their answer.

If you’ve given them time and they still seem confused or stumped, ask them if they’d like more time to think about it or if they’d like you to reframe the question. If they’re still stumped, you can move on to another question. Once they are more comfortable and have answered other questions, you can go back to the original one you skipped.


5. Practice Active Listening

Don’t race through the questions. Record more than just a person’s first thought.

Let the person you’re talking to think through their answer, and help them uncover why they think something. If you’re trying to understand what makes someone feel safe in their neighbourhood, their first response might be “good lighting.” You can get even better answers if you ask them a follow-up question: “what is it about good lighting that makes your neighbourhood feel safe?”


6. Write It Down

If you didn’t take notes, it didn’t happen. And it isn’t enough just to take notes—you need to take accurate and unbiased notes. 

Do your best to write down what the person actually said, without interpreting it into your own words. When you’re asking for more personal information, including demographics, it’s good to give the person the option of filling it out themselves. This means physically handing over the clipboard.


Want to learn more, or looking for other research options?

📚 Using Ethnography in Design Research Can Unearth Problems You Never Knew Existed

📚 Are Street Teams the Right Research Tool For You?