One of the good things about being a content strategist is that you get to offer practical help to other disciplines (as well as learning heaps from them in return).

Rachel McConnell
Rachel McConnell
2 weeks ago

We couldn’t do our jobs without research, and so when researchers ask for content help I am always happy to oblige!

Structuring research findings can be really tricky — you need to be able to tell a story but also make sure you address your original brief. It’s a presentation, but one which could have serious implications on your product if you don’t position it in the right way. After some presentation training I’d had a while back, it got me thinking about how you could apply similar principles to compiling research outputs. There are some mandatories for playing back your research, but also different ways to position your findings. Here’s my advice on what to include:

doodles of research findings on paper
When you have all the stuff but just don’t know how to tell the story

Introduction

To make sure your introduction really sets up your findings, here’s what to include:

  • What’s the background to the project, why did you carry out the research, what was your objective?
  • Did you have a hypothesis or some assumptions to prove/disprove?
  • Who were the participants?
  • What were the methods used?
  • Where was the research carried out? Was it carried out in different markets?

Findings

The bulk of your playback should be what you discovered. This can be hard to know how to position, so here are three different ideas for presenting back your findings:

1. Present each key finding followed by the supporting observations.

This is one of the most common techniques but while it can be tempting, don’t list every single quote or insight, just two or three that strongly support the finding. Also it’s worth only having a handful of the most relevant findings in the bulk of the presentation, and keeping the rest in an appendix.

2. Present the hypothesis followed by some findings that either confirm or conflict with it.

As a researcher, your role is to present back the findings but not to come up with solutions. One way to keep your presentation objective is to simply list each hypothesis, with the findings that either confirm or conflict with it. Again, stick to just the strongest quotes and observations to evidence, quality will always beat quantity.

3. Present the ‘vision’ for the product followed by the reality.

Perhaps a more unique and thought-provoking way to present back research is to remind stakeholders of their product vision, but then show an alternative user perspective. Your observations/insights will either strengthen the vision or show an alternative view, and this can be quite powerful for stakeholders to see, and influence their direction.

List the key (strongest) supporting observations/quotes as before, and keep the weaker ones in the appendix if anyone needs more detail later on.

In any of the above methods, audio or video clips are always stronger than quotes written out on a page, but do be aware of how you’ll be playing back. It might be a good idea to include the written quote as well as a video or audio clip to avoid technical constraints.

Summary

Summarise three or four key messages from the findings — not all of them. And stick to the most compelling content or problematic issues.

Appendix

You can include more detailed quotes, observations or insights (or links to videos) for those that want more detail in this section.

Don’t forget about the story you want to tell. While you need a conclusion, your role is to present the insights, and not to jump to recommended solutions, unless you’re recommending further research of course! Slides should be simple to read, with clear headings and well-laid out content.

The strength of your research depends on a clear, compelling playback, so invest extra time to practise your presentation with another team member before the main event (maybe your friendly content designer!). And don’t forget to proof-read!

This post was originally published on Medium