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Let Me Tell You A Story

Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog!   

At the company where I work, a large part of our business is B2B tradeshows.  At the end of each tradeshow (and after the results of our post-show evaluations come in), our market research team collaborates with our marketing data team to produce a presentation/report. Yes, currently it really is a presentation-slash-report…that’s part of this story.

There is so much data that comes out of both departments after an event...and of course teams that manage the events have key questions about the performance of their product.  Over time, our presentation/reports have grown, and grown, and grown…and grown. 

So, now, in the scant hour that we have for our presentation meeting, we are subjecting our audience to a LOT of data.  That takes a lot of stamina to listen to and digest.  A presentation that has come out of a great collaboration between teams has essentially become one big cumbersome report.   

And you know what? Along the way we lost the story.

In research, we all work in data-rich environments.  There is so much to analyze and so much to takes a lot of skill to hone that down into something more palatable AND focus on the story you're actually trying to tell.  Because if you focus on the story, the data will help you tell it without a “data dump” taking over the talk entirely. As the brilliant Cole Nussbaumer says:  “Any data you show has to be part of a story.” 

Are we all natural storytellers? No. If you're not a natural storyteller (many of us aren't) it's a skill like any other that needs to be nurtured.  Where to start?

Check out a video encore of Jonah Sachs’ TMRE 2012 talk on ‘Winning the Story Wars’ that we shared on the blog recently.

Watch one of the Jedi masters of storytelling, Nancy Duarte, speak on ‘The Secret Structure of Great Talks.’

Immerse yourself at #TMRE13 in the many sessions that have a storytelling aspect to them, including: 

-A pre-conference storytelling workshop on Sunday 10/20 hosted by Emmy-nominated country music songwriters

-Conducting The Symphony Of Brand Development: Immerse Your Audience In The Story presented by E&J Gallo Winery

-Using Brand Data (Media Mix Analysis, Brand  Tracking Studies, Etc.) To Tell Your Brand Story presented by StubHub

-Principles of Visual Storytelling presented by Vital Findings

So, back to my story. 

What are we doing about the presentation/report?  We're talking to our customers to learn what makes the most sense for them, we're investigating what should go into actual reports versus the presentation (should it be a “slideument”?) , we're also prepping some fun exercises like an immersion room full of the slides that our key constituents can walk around with sticky notes and comment on.

But at the top of our list? Honing the storytelling skills of our teams to ensure that the story doesn't get lost in a sea of data.