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How can researchers be better visual communicators?

5 tips to get you out of the box

1. Less Is More

The number one thing poor research reports have in common is too much information (and too little actual insight). You have to streamline your report down to the most important headlines. Constantly remind yourself that less is more and don’t overcomplicate things with too many charts or too much text.

2. Take The Time To Brainstorm

Before you start putting "pen to paper" spend a little time brainstorming ideas for your visual content. This could mean searching through cool powerpoint templates, letterhead, chart types, models/frameworks… basically anything sparks some creativity. Each point you make should have a nice visual reference reinforcing a singular takeaway.

3. Remember Your Audience

Is your reader a seasoned market research analyst looking for context and detail? A marketing or product team that is looking for answers? Or an executive team that just needs the key highlights? Your tone and approach should vary based on who you are talking to.

4. Doodle & Draw More

When you are thinking about how to reinforce (and visualize) your main points, don't be afraid to grab a piece of paper and start drawing. Perhaps its a new schematic, an alternate version of a bar chart, or something that better emphasizes the point you are trying to make. Forcing yourself to use another medium (like paper rather than PPT) can often give you the edge you need to come up with something new.

5. Let Go Of Conventions

Throw away the standard pie chart or bar chart. Rethink how you might represent the information. I know it means more work, but you're not going to achieve better design with the same old visuals. Being intentional about doing something different is paramount, and it may mean scrapping your PPT template or your standard set of charts.