Top 5 Ways Insights Professionals Can Overcome Storytelling Challenges

About a 2 min. read

Shira Smith
Insights Director
Tara Lasker
VP, Insights & Strategy Operations

Storytelling continues to be a hot topic in the insights industry. Here are some best practices to create strong, data-backed insights.

Understand your audience

Really understand your audience. From the onset, be intentional about the end users, whether they are fellow researchers, marketers, product design teams, C Suite, etc. Knowing who will be impacted by these insights is critical to how a story is told. Go back to basics; ask yourself, “who, what, when, where, and why?”. For example: What do your stakeholders care about, how are they going to be absorbing this data, where will this be given to them, why is this work being commissioned now, when do they need to take action? Often, several reports/presentations are needed to speak to differing audiences effectively and knowing that from the start will drive the story accordingly.

Be relentlessly decision focused

The goal of any story is to make a lasting impact. Define the business decisions with your stakeholders rather than only focusing on research objectives. How will the research be used? What are the priorities? Developing set processes for documenting these evolving needs will ensure your insights are actionable and impactful.

Time is of the essence

There’s no way around it; storytelling takes time. Leverage technology to impact your speed-to-insights. Invest in tools, technologies, and processes which help to internalize data and develop the narrative earlier so you can focus on making an impact. Schedule time to think—including internal work sessions—storyboard and iterate as the narrative takes shape. In the moment, it can feel like extra time you don’t have, but it will make a big difference…and often save you time in the long run!

Focus on engagement

Thanks to the added time you scheduled, you’re able to create more dynamic deliverables and better engage with your audience(s). Whether that be with imagery, videos, interactive exercises, props or workshops, keep your audience emotionally invested by bringing insights to life. Lean on your design team to surprise and delight each and every time.

Embrace the red pen

One of the biggest challenges is distilling mountains of data and fighting the desire to share every nuance. Focus! Don’t make it complicated. Any detail that distracts from your narrative or your stakeholders’ needs must be removed. If need be, provide that information in the appendix or send it as a follow-up to further engage with your audience. Excessive language does nothing but take up too much of your precious time and space. Edit!

At CMB, we’re all about the story behind the data. We continue to push the boundaries of our storytelling capabilities by more deeply understanding and listening to our clients; investing in the tools, technologies, and talent that enable us to raise the bar; and translating insights into actions in a meaningful and memorable way. Want to work with us? Let’s get started.