A good report begins with a good understanding of the client’s needs and available options. The objectives are the touchstone for developing the report.A good report requires a balance of answering the objectives within the available options.
Find out what format the client needs Find out how the report will be used
Make a template based on the objectivesA roadmap for developing the reportObjectives come from the discussion guide
Write out the research objectives and methodology first (saves time later)Strengthens focus while moderating
Consider debriefs the beginning of the report writing processListen to clients and engage them in conversation (priorities can change/evolve)Debrief daily to make sure the research stays on trackHelps ensure you and the clients all go home on the same page
Think like a journalist – curiosity – think like CSI – solving problemsListeners are the main character – take them from A to B; from business question to insightBuild stories from beginning to endThink like a mystery writer
Findings should address the objectivesNo need to play back everything -- “I don’t read.”Avoid “interesting” tangents
Bring in relatedinsights from other projects and past experiencesWhat is an insight?
Headlines should concisely state a finding, rather only be a labelYou should be able to flip through the report in 10 minutes and get the key insightsThe reader should be able to thumb through and get the gist of the report from the headlines
Write action-oriented insightsUse verbs so they read like recommendationsExamples???1. An insight is invariably below the surface. It isn’t immediately visible or apparent.2. An insight isn’t already common knowledge or part of prevailing wisdom3. An insight leads to a new opportunity or growth potential that can be effectively exploited.Examples of insights:Coffee marketing discovered that the smell of coffee was the most important factor even though you drink coffee, it’s not a perfume. This lead to a focus on the celebration of aroma.Washing up liquid: the focus on the sparkle of glasses (wine glasses) came from the insight that you can most clearly and easily see with glass if it’s really clean or not. It’s about light, not dirt.Are Market Researchers good at uncovering Insights? We all know about fulfilling a brief – hitting the objectives.I’d say that almost every project I’ve ever worked on in market research has uncovered an insight that actually wasn’t in the brief – road-side stuff, so to speak.Maybe we should consider documenting not just what was asked for in a brief, but point out side-insights that weren’t expected.
Think in terms of metaphors and visuals. Visuals save you words and are memorable.
Educate yourself on visual thinkingPay attention to magazines and graphic designers as examples of how to highlight key insights
Don’t hint at findings Highlight them to make sure that findings are exaggerated/easy to skim
Speak to your client beforehandDebrief oftenUse journalistic instincts to make sure findings pop
Baker's Dozen: 13 Tips for Better Reports and Presentations
Report or Presentation? Teleprompter 50
– 75 words/page Poor compromise Too often the default Document 75+ words on page Preparation Discussion Presentation Minimal words Key take-aways Images for impact