How many insights decks have you received that were hard to follow, lacked clear implications, or were just plain boring and uninspiring?

Whether you’ve experienced this first hand or are in the process of sprucing up your insights deliverables, it’s easy to look at the market research industry today and see there’s clearly room for improvement when it comes to delivering insights learnings and implications.?

Man Jumping into Action

I would start by saying we need to redefine the role of the “Insights Deliverable” such that it better aligns with the dynamics of the 21st century. Insights deliverables began as simple memos used to share data and facts. Over time they progressed to large PowerPoint presentations that enabled greater data visualization. However, today’s audiences need more. They have less time than ever before and are bombarded by data and demands. Given their divided attention and time-starved environment, I would advocate our goal as insights professionals should be to entertain, educate, and inspire action.

After looking back at my client and supplier side experiences and recently attending the TMRE (The Market Research Event) where the insights deliverable topic was heavily discussed, I would offer up some simple rules of thumb to think about when preparing your next research deliverable.

RULE 1:  Identify and tell your research story

  • Review your data and create the story outline
  • Ensure all story components are represented
Traditional Storytelling Components Components for Storytelling with Data
Setting – The environment or surrounding of the story that enables the reader to picture the scene Background/Objectives – Brief overview of the current business situation and key objectives the research is intended to address
Characters – The individuals the story is about Headlines – The key points you need your audience to remember
Plot – The actual story that has a clear beginning, middle and end enabling the reader to make sense of the information and follow along Story Flow – The order in which you organize your headlines such that the audience can follow along and make sense of it
Conflict – What the plot is centered around, it’s when the story’s action becomes most exciting and is just before the resolution Key Implications -The “so what” or the what the data really means
Resolution – Solution to the problem and must fit the story in tone and creativity and solve all parts of the problem Recommendations – The “now what” or action you recommend the audience take.  This action needs to fit with the headlines of the story and the reality of the business situation, environment and/or culture.  Remember your audience expects you to have a point of view

RULE 2:  Make the story highly visual

  • This means absolutely NO cross-tabs, data, or numbers that aren’t relevant to the story
  • If using PowerPoint:
    • Always have a clear headline/key take-away on the slide
    • Ensure headlines are supported by the “see/say” rule – your audience should visually see and be able to take away in a second or two what your headline is saying
    • Embed pictures, videos, and quotes as much as possible to support your headlines
    • Challenge yourself on how to visually tell the story with the fewest data points possible
    • Think outside the proverbial PowerPoint box to what other visual or multi-sensory options are available
      • Some examples from this year’s TMRE Conference included:
        • Partnering with a design team to build cardboard schematics and stories around consumer targets and occasions and then having team members spend a day (or at least a few hours) immersing themselves with the consumer
        • Creating Facebook pages for target consumers

RULE 3:  Go back and re-evaluate rules 1 and 2; there’s likely opportunity to create a more inspiring story

Are you entertaining, educating and inspiring your audiences?