Research is strongly valued by most companies, but clearly conveying results can be an uphill battle. Presenting findings via massive spreadsheets with tiny font can lead you on a fast-track to snoozeville or result in a misinterpretation of the data.
Savvy researchers know that in order to capture attention across departments, presentations need to be visually striking and focus on the key takeaways. Some of my favorite tactics to capture and sustain interest when presenting research company-wide include:
Think from the top down. Streamline prep for wide distribution by ensuring you understand the key questions senior leadership will want to be answered during the meeting. Addressing these topics towards the beginning of the presentation increases the likelihood that they will tune in not only for this content but also for sessions in the future. Additionally, if you have context into wider implications this research will have on the organization (e.g. adjusting budget, re-allocating marketing spend, rebranding), make sure these bigger picture considerations are addressed in recommendations for next steps.
Maximize engagement with a video. If you’re presenting research with a qualitative component, consider incorporating a video clip early on. This provides an interactive and personal glimpse into the consumers powering your insights. If you don’t have any qualitative research to report, try embedding a short but engaging video that is relevant to the topic. For example, if you’re reporting on results from a quant survey about influencers, you’ve got tens of thousands of YouTube videos at your disposal.
Ask yourself, “How will someone best retain this info?” If you see several charts on the same slide, ask yourself honestly if the audience will retain all that information. The answer is likely no. When giving a data-heavy presentation, limit each slide to two charts maximum. Also, experiment with creative visual representations of charts. This will likely allow for quicker comprehension of the information. If you’re not a whiz at data visualization, try applying animation features to your slides, so that data points can be highlighted in intervals.
Appendixes are your friend...prepare ahead! If you anticipate that at least one person outside your department will have an appetite for the full research results, don’t wait for the request. Rather, prepare in advance by creating a detailed Appendix in the back of your deck.
About the Author: Bess Devenow is the Director, Marketing at ProdegeMR, leading provider of people driven insights, where an emphasis is placed on providing best in class data and interactive deliverables for the wide variety of research they field. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.