We utilize sense-making sessions to share insights from our larger-scale projects. Instead of using our time together to present facts and figures, we share reports in advance, and then bring stakeholders together into an interactive session to discuss implications and action items from the research. A typical session includes time for Q&A, breakout groups or individual thought exercises to engage with the insights, and convergence on key takeaways and actionable next steps. In this new, virtual way of working, we leverage tools like Microsoft Teams or Mural to create interactive experiences when in-person gatherings are not possible.
Start by answering key questions about your audience.As Plato once said, “Know your audience.” (Okay, maybe the quote didn’t originate with Plato, but it’s still sound advice.) When you get ready to package your insights, ask yourself the following questions about your stakeholders:
Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, their priorities, and where they are starting from in terms of knowledge, you’ll be able to communicate your insights in ways that resonate with them.
Choose a digestible format.
Don’t present your stakeholders with long blocks of text or data tables that won’t mean anything to them without context. Break text up into chunks that are easy to read (and, realistically, skim) and incorporate visuals that help stakeholders process data and insights.
Don’t bury the lede.
Lead with the most important findings so that stakeholders who are short on time won’t miss them. Market research consultant Jim White says that these leading findings should be the 10% of insights that are new–that is, they represent something the audience didn’t already know, or they reframe something the audience already knew in a thought-provoking way.
Add calls to action for each audience.
Go beyond just delivering insights and be a true strategic partner by prominently displaying recommended next steps or calls to action for your stakeholders. If you have multiple stakeholder groups, consider tailoring a different set of calls to action for each group. Use bullet points to set your calls to action apart and help your audience(s) quickly jump to them.
Develop a feedback loop.
Here’s another opportunity to use data: look at your stakeholders’ engagement with different research assets to figure out what’s working well, what’s being underutilized, and what could be optimized. If you’re using an insights management platform with built-in engagement analytics, you can run reports on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to see what content has been engaged with the most, which users have engaged with the most content, what terms users are searching for most frequently, and more. This can help you determine which formats are most and least effective, what topics your audience is most interested in, and where there are knowledge gaps so that you can continuously improve your insights delivery.