The Bigger Picture | Presenting Research Effectively
For those of us who regularly deal with large pieces of quantitative data, presentation can be a challenging task. Quant Research heavily involves numeric data, often in a linear or tabular form. The question is, how do you make spread sheets, numbers and statistics look impressive and thorough whilst maintaining accessibility for clients?
Let’s Get Visual
The problem with large tables or spread sheets of data is the possibility of confusing or overwhelming the client. Yes, statistical data is a great way to enhance the impact of certain pieces of research, but in terms of clarity, it may need some help.
Visualisation can often be the answer. A colourful chart, a clear graph or a well-designed PowerPoint can assist the researcher in presenting their findings to the client in an appealing and engaging fashion. Infographics, if used in right way, can also be incredibly useful tool (check out our guest blog by Ray Poynter on the matter). What is the purpose of our research? What does client want to know? We have to ask ourselves these questions before presenting results back to our audience. Visual aids can be a good way to emphasise the key points we’re trying to make and add impact to our findings.
What we must always do when we present research, is tell a great story. We must guide our audience through the overload of information, past the clutter and towards the most important nuggets of insight. Visual assistance has a wonderful way of doing this. Through diagrams and graphics, the audience can gain a much clearer explanation of processes, trends and key findings. They break up chunks of data and allow the audience to see what the findings are telling them. Clarification of research is what most clients need, and it would be foolish to not even consider visualisation as an option to do so. Don’t assume, however, that this guarantees better presentation. The visual learners out there may love the effort you’ve gone to with your charts and graphics, but auditory fans will probably take a different view. Cater for all audience needs (although maybe not so much for the kinaesthetic learners, they’re just being difficult!)
Assess the expectations, personality and skill set of the client. Think about what information they need and tailor your presentation accordingly. What can you do to impress them? Is there additional info you could present? Don’t just give them what they ask for, they might not know that there are other options!
We Just Want Numbers!
It is important to remember that, for some clients, visualisation is probably not the best way forward. Don’t forget that people learn in different ways and what interests you may not be what will grab their attention. Eye-catching graphics or presentations may be impressive, but when your audience is looking for key statistics or collections of numeric data, they can be pretty pointless. In fact, if used incorrectly, visuals can have an adverse effect and cause the data to become more complicated and harder to decipher. If the key points aren’t presented properly, or the wrong points are highlighted, the findings can become confusing (and result in the client having to ask for clarification of your work, which is never a good thing).
The point is, know your audience and don’t try to be too clever. What is the best way to tell your story? Will visuals help? Yes? Great, add them in! If not, think about other ways to present the data in a clear and digestible way.
There are loads of exciting ways to do this. Below, we’ve listed some ideas of ways to make your research believable, interesting and enjoyable.
- Video presentation
- Acting out a story
- Creating a story book
- A private website which only the client can access with dynamic visuals and data that can be copied, extracted and reworked by the client in other forms
- A bespoke map for geographical research
- A physical or digital 3D model for research of buildings, parks etc with stats, reports, stories etc highlighted in the appropriate places
Have you got any interesting or exciting methods of presenting research? Share your suggestions with us here: