Let’s be frank, we have all been subjected to at least one boring presentation in our lives; be it at school, University or at work. But in an industry that is based on insight and the understandings of human behaviour, you would expect those in MR to have the art of intelligent and engaging presentations nailed down. But all too often this is not the case. So this week we are looking at The Rules of Engagement; how to successfully encourage client engagement through presentations.
Andrew Doyle (Holmes & Marchant) who has worked closely with many researchers over the course of his career, sums up the most extreme view of presentations with this damning statement; “I have never, ever seen a good presentation from a research company in 40 years of being on the receiving end of them. And it’s getting worse.” This may not represent every presentation recipient but it follows a worrying trend of criticism for post project Market Research communications. The problem stems not only from the general attitude towards MR but attitudes within the industry itself. The very nature of our industry revolves around the need to be impartial enabling us to consult from a neutral point of view. However, ‘neutral’ does not have to translate to ‘uninteresting’ when presenting large quantities of data, which is more often than not the case. Also common in MR presentation criticism is a lack of impact or motivation; a massive failing on the industry’s part if this problem is as prevalent as research would have us believe. With the world constantly set to fast-forward, surely the industry is charged with not only keeping up but also in taking the lead in innovative engagement.
There are a lot of external factors at play in effective communication today. Most significantly, thanks to the internet and a shift in focus to the digital realms, we live in a much more visual world than we did previously. In addition we also want convenience, instant satisfaction and to be constantly entertained (but without the effort or complication). In short, we live in an incredibly busy, diverse and complicated world making us crave simplicity and speed. With so many options for keeping life (and ultimately presentations) interesting, we really have no excuses; the options are endless. Add to the mix the fact that evidence now suggests the human attention span is decreasing as modern technology increases, we research bods really should do more to reflect this change in human behaviour.
Working closely with so much data often finds researchers guilty of forgetting that those less familiar will not always see the clarity in what they are trying to say. People need to be stimulated, motivated and interacted with, but pages and pages of information and slides upon slides of data often lack focus and are lost on audiences. With it not being uncommon to receive 60, 70, 80 slides for a single MR presentation, it begs the question just how do you keep that amount of information interesting and engaging? You can’t. It is an impossible task; human beings do not work like that, and it is time the MR industry realised this.
With so many options out there now to create interesting presentations it would foolish to not change our ways. Infographics, Prezi, Slide Rocket and motion graphic videos are all good examples of adding that all important spice to encourage engagement; it’s everything you need to know, simplified. These formats all take, often, mundane, complex data and turn it into unique, appealing, colourful informative resources.
Graphics aside, any audience participation is a sure fire way of upping engagement. We did this recently at The Research Mafia’s Redefining Research Conference. In addition to our wonderful speakers, who did an excellent job at interacting and engaging with the audience, widely done through the use of voting systems; we also had debates, focus groups and even a game show! At no point were delegates talked ‘at’ nor were they presented with large stodgy quantities of information to digest. And this seems to be the key; data being presented visually or on an interactive level. So surely, as researchers, we should at the very least be embracing these new exciting ways of communicating more effectively, if we are not yet at the forefront of developing them ourselves?
We have many options available to us to make information and data as accessible and interesting as possible. You can’t attribute cost as a deterrent either, as most of the resources available offer a free version with affordable payment scales for the more advanced tools. In our continual fight to shake up and modernise the MR industry we need to be much more innovative in our approach. We must start acting on what we know and understand fundamentally; keep it simple. But like children, the adult brain needs stimulation and this comes from being imaginative. If we do not recognise this then our messages will be lost, swamped by data that is in danger of becoming futile; ultimately discrediting the industry and its reputation. Market Research is known for its traditions and reliance on data but that shouldn’t stop us embracing the modern world, and in doing so keeping up in the hope that one day we might even pave the way.
What have your experiences been with MR presentations?
Are we as an industry falling behind?
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