Blaise Pascal once said “I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter .” It is much harder to write something that is succinct than a long and rambling communiqué.
The same can be said for insights. After all, as CX and insights professionals we are in the business of delivering and acting on information, not a slinger of unexamined data and tabs. I think more importantly though, we need to deliver insights that are persuasive, engaging, and catalysts for action. The most advanced and eloquent analysis is worthless if not communicated well.
Stacks of analytical output and spreadsheets can be impressive, but equally bewildering to the consumer of the information. What people want to hear is what has been learned and what should be done. We are bombarded by data everyday.
Our job is to sift through the deluge of data and turn it into information. However, you still often see to be the 80-page PowerPoint deck. Thunk!
The logic being, surely we are not doing our job if we don’t display every aspect of an issue and show that we have done our homework by looking at every possible angle. The heft of the deck seems to fit the bill for some.
For most clients that is way off of the mark. Like good UX design, strip away everything that is not contributing or useful. Executives want to know “what did you find and what should we do?” If you can explain that in five minutes in a persuasive way then you have done your job. That’s not easy though.
The Heath brothers have an excellent tutorial on how to get to the sticky ideas in Made to Stick and Jon Steel nails how to distill it down in Perfect Pitch. The hard work in delivering insights isn’t in data prep or even analysis…its extracting the story. It takes a lot of time and thought to get down to the essence and the implications.
The business of consumer insight isn’t 4th grade math where you have to show your work. We are hired because, ostensibly, because we know the craft. We don’t have to prove it by boring our audience with slide after slide of support. That is behind the curtain. The tables have been examined, the analyses have been run, the charts have been examined. This pre-presentation work has been done.
What now is required is to perfect the story. To distill down to the bare essence and find a parsimonious story that is compelling, entertaining, and persuasive. We are scientists. We are artists too. The effective ones are are also talented journalists and entertainers.