We get a lucid understanding of events around us when we see/ hear them in the form of art. From ages, man has communicated information in the form of art, written or spoken. In this age of ‘information’, with dwarfing attention spans, there is a dire need of making it most convenient for people to grasp and understand the information we are trying to give to them.

As one of my clients said blatantly at the end of a bunch of market research presentations, “The audience is getting dumber and dumber everyday!” It made me sit up and think… I suddenly realised that a market researcher has another role to perform – the role of an artist, a dramatist, a story-teller.

As I was sitting through a bunch of presentations made by various research agencies to the client, I was finding it quite cumbersome to stop myself from dozing off. I found my eye balls oscillating from one cell to another in the table on the slide. All I could see were numbers, numbers and numbers filled on the slide. For a moment I was confused whether it was a PowerPoint slide show, or an excel sheet. Slide after slide, it was the same scenario. Although I agree that while presenting the findings of a quantitative study, our slides need to have numbers. But as human beings, our brains have certain limitations to processing a volley of numbers being shot at us. We need to create a map within our brain and make every element fit into it perfectly, only then will everything make sense to us. Otherwise, it all just flies from top of our heads!

As market researchers, we need to show some mercy on our clients. The human mind needs to be convinced in order to buy into any idea. After all, the ultimate end product that a researcher is giving to the client is an ‘idea’ or an ‘insight’ emerging from the data. And the manner in which the data/ idea is presented to the client will make a huge difference to its acceptance.

We must learn from the great artists about the secret of their success. As Picasso puts across very lucidly, “Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.” Similarly, our market research presentation should be considered as a form of art. While creating a presentation deck, we must look at it like our masterpiece and make it crisp and yet attention grabbing.

Market Research is done to deep-dive into the consumers’ mind and extract pearls of insight. Hence, the entire research findings presentation should focus around the consumer. We must understand companies from the consumer’s perspective instead of researching consumers from the company’s perspective. Each slide on our presentation deck should ideally look like the consumer speaking directly to the client instead of a third party (the research agency!) speaking on behalf of the consumer. This may sound absurd, but it is possible if the creator of the presentation can put herself in the shoes of the consumer and “feel” like the consumer while creating and presenting the deck. It requires empathy and an inner journey while looking at the data. After all, the subject of all our analysis, at the end of the day, is a human. Just like we tell stories about our friends and family members to each other, in the same way we need to narrate stories about human beings, whom we refer to as ‘consumers’. We should not use too much jargon because it makes one feel like we are describing a mechanical process like photosynthesis instead of describing the psyche and behavior of a human being. The narration should emerge from the heart. The language used in the presentation can also be made conversational and in first person as if the consumer has herself made the slides! For example, instead of writing “The consumers understood the context of the advertisement” in the presentation, we can just write “I understood the ad” in a call out. It would give the client a sense of being one step closer to the consumer while looking at your deck.

The use of visual elements in the deck also plays a very important role in keeping the audience attentive and interested. Especially, when presenting complicated numbers, it is better to use visual elements like Venn diagrams, mind maps and flow charts instead of plain tables. On an average, the time given to the audience in between 2 slides does not last for more than a minute. The human mind is capable of processing visual data much faster than textual data. Hence, if we want the audience to pick up more meat from our deck at the end of the day, we must use more visual cues.

As Leonardo Da Vinci says, ““Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. There is always a limit to the amount of “jazzing up” one can do in a presentation. We do not want to crowd the slides with too many visuals and an overload of data. Being crisp, simple and to the point are the traits of Data Da Vinci!

TANVI GUPTA, Eternal Student and Research Executive at Millward Brown, India. Reach me on twitter @Tanvi_MR