Reporting research findings is quite a task. If you've hit slide 60 and are starting to wonder why you asked so many freaking questions in your study... relax. It's great to have all that data, but truthfully, you may not need to report on it all. Here are a couple tips to help you streamline your next report.
1. Start With A Headline
What is the major headline for your study? If it was on the front page of the NY Times, for anyone to see, what would you write? How would you grab their attention? Think of your headline as the controlling idea that all themes, content and insights point back to. Make it dynamic. Make it Bold.
2. Develop Supporting Insights & Themes
Add paragraph text here.Once you have your headline, think about the specific insights and data that supports this central point. Focus on what matters... the trends, the changes, the nuances, the segment differences. Just because a client wants to see "all the data" doesn't mean you have to put it in your main report. There is a wonderful thing called the Appendix for all those charts that don't matter. Keep it simple. Use real language. Write to be understood, not to be admired. Keep it short. You're the only one impressed that your file is 120 slides and 15 MBs.
3. Focus on Recommendations
This is where you earn your money. Spend your time on making meaningful recommendations that tie back to specific insights. Talk to your colleagues. Spend time researching related trends, industry benchmarks, peripheral topics, and data sets. Quality is better than quantity when it comes to recommendations, so aim for 3-5 solid recommendations.
4. Establish Progression & Flow
Once you have the key themes and recommendations outlined, make sure it all flows together nicely. Some call this "storytelling", some called it "narrative" development. Think about the basic connection of events and themes. Ideally, each insight and recommendation builds in importance until the end. Give people a reason to keep reading.
If there is not a clear hierarchy of importance, then just think chronologically. What happened in the beginning, middle, and end? Think about the product lifecycle and how customers interact with a given product/service from start to finish.
While there are engaging ways to structure your narrative in a more compelling storytelling "arc", focus on clarity. Understanding trumps creativity with research "stories". If I just read your headline and the title of your supporting insights, would I know what happened? Make it easy for me to follow.
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