Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. Mayra Munguia will be speaking at IIeX Europe 2020 in Amsterdam, Feb. 25-26. If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX Europe. Click here to learn more.
During the journey of creating a research project, one of the most important, and nerve-wracking pieces of the puzzle, is communicating the results to the client.
Nowadays, it’s hard to retain information due to the large amount we process every day, it’s believed that clients spend an average of 37% of their time in meetings and presentations so, how can we make our insights stand out from the crowd? I’ve picked 5 tricks to help you out.
1. Tell the Story
This has been discussed a number of times, so I won’t spend too long talking about this, but it’s still one of the most important aspects of a report that will ensure a higher engagement rate. As humans, we pay attention to and engage a whole lot more with stories than we do with data. But what people keep forgetting, is that data holds a multitude of stories that haven’t been put into words yet.
One of my colleagues wrote an article about the importance of art in market research, along with a few storytelling starter tips such as “show don’t tell” the story, and the necessity of having a beginning, middle, and end; something that is relevant for any consumer stories that you tell within your presentation and is also a great overarching structure to the presentation itself!
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
When delivering insights during a presentation or workshop, you can test your audience by firing quick questions. Researchers have found that you can hold about four things in your short-term memory for approximately 20-30 seconds, and that being tested on information is actually one of the best ways to move these items into your long-term memory and improve recall.
To incorporate this, after explaining a result that you consider truly relevant and important, you can ask questions related to it, like: “I’m curious, did you have any theories about X before you saw these results?” This will automatically encourage your audience to actively associate the relevant insight with a particular part or issue within the company, making it easier for them to remember the results in the future and also giving you more information about the corporation for upcoming projects; win-win!
3. Use Memorable Visual Stimuli
Who pays attention to copious graphs and wordy reports anymore? Carmine Gallo’s theory is that the audience’s attention drops to zero after just 10 minutes of a presentation. Using images to represent a point you are making has been in the game for a long time, but the new stage is to squeeze out these powerful tools to make your insight become a memory.
But what is it that makes certain imagery memorable? Luckily, scientists have found an answer; subjects that inspire negative emotional responses (i.e. disgust, anger, and fear rather than awe or contentment) are one of the key aspects of a memorable image. The use of ambiguity is another engaging aspect, where multiple meanings can be interpreted from a single image. Such a practice has long been a staple of the advertising profession, causing viewers to exert just enough cognitive effort to help code an advert into long-term memory.
Of course, images aren’t the only visual stimulus; there are videos, infographics, GIFs, and animations all of which are great ways to make your report memorable. Video summaries are great for our increasingly visual age (where it’s easier to watch than read), or to increase the interactivity, you could use different software, such as a non-linear presentation (Prezi), an interactive one (Swipe), or even a collaborative one (Google slides).
4. Take Advantage of Time
The first aspect of time to recognize is the best time of the day to hold a meeting and get as much attention as you can from the attendees. Try to avoid holding a meeting first thing; chances are that the clients will have to be earlier in the office than usual, either to prepare questions, re-read the objectives, etc. which can lead to a rough start to the day; let’s be honest, we all want to take a few minutes to relax and familiarise ourselves with our to-do list at the start of the day.
Late afternoon meetings aren’t good either; most people will be clock-watching and it’s likely that they won’t ask as many questions as they normally would, meaning they won’t have engaged as fully with the insights. The best time is mid-morning when everyone is full of energy for the day ahead.
The second aspect to watch out for is the length of the meeting; a recent study showed that contrary to popular belief people consider longer meetings to be more productive, as shown in the image below.
Don’t be afraid to ask for more time than usual to fully explain the results of a research study, just briefly pause every 45min to keep the attendees engaged; clients are keen to know more about their company/market, and a better way to keep them engaged is if you take your time to explain it.
5. Get Innovative with Insight Presentation
Until now, most insights have been presented to clients in traditional ways: either with PowerPoint presentations, written report filled with data tables. But handing over an innovative report will push your client to keep engaged.
One option could be online interactive reports, such as this one from District Mobility, which allows the user to explore the results of the research themselves; taking themselves through the interactive results will stimulate clients more than having it presented to them. You could incorporate virtual and augmented reality to really put stakeholders in the participants’ shoes, you could create animations; if you think outside of the box, the options for creative reporting are endless.
You have to know your client, their needs, likes and dislikes, and based on that you can design a report that is right for them, and makes them sit up and take notice of your results, remembering them long enough to be helpful on a long-term basis. At the end of the day, what we’re looking for is not only to deliver insights, but to tell the client a story.