One of the things I have seen over the last years is that client side insight managers, marketing managers and anyone that uses market research to inform decisions, demand increasingly shorter outputs.

The ask often is to “tell the story in no more than 5 slides” or “we really need this video to not exceed 1 minute and 30 seconds”. I get that we live in a world of information and data overload and that senior management need to review a lot in order to make the right decisions, but there are limits.

Not every project can be boiled down to 1 or 5 slides; not without possibly losing a lot of good stuff or worse missing things. If for example the research is exploratory in nature or to better understand something like a customer journey or the consumer’s world, then how can you convey everything relevant in just a few slides?

For 2018 I would ask Insight Managers at companies to push back a little on those who want everything distilled, synthesized and in some short story format as the key deliverable; enough already.

Here are 5 ways to do things a little differently

1.     Discuss which types of projects you can and can’t deliver boiled down output - and the reasons why - with both stakeholders and partner agencies so everyone knows what to expect.

2.     Agree more collaboratively with the partner agency at the start of the study what in their view would be the best way to disseminate the findings and manage specific internal expectations on a project by project basis.

3.     If a project creates a lot of valuable information and boiling it down too much causes your company to miss important things, don’t cover everything in one session or report. Break it up and have shorter 20-30 minute readouts or decks, covering parts of a project to keep things relevant to each audience. It means there is time internally for the right people to digest the information and have stakeholders query findings, develop new hypotheses etc.

4.     Use more video and animation. We have started experimenting with both longer reporting videos (3-6 minutes) and interactive videos (videos where the viewer can explore subjects in greater detail if they wish). We live in the era of video and we are used to learning via YouTube so why not do it at work too.

5.     Talk about the findings before the final deliverable is created. Build in a session with a small team of stakeholders and let the agency talk you through all of the findings informally. Sure this takes time, which often is in short supply, but I would argue it will actually save time on occasions as you will know what is really important to your stakeholders and the wider business so the final deliverable for the wider audience can be succinct and impactful.

Perhaps the best thing is to ensure that the research brief is as clear in its communication requirements as it is in its research objectives so your agencies can do good work that effectively reaches the right people.

Happy reporting to all throughout 2018.