What I have learned over the years is that you need to spend as much time sharing your findings as you do gathering them. Why? Because your findings must be capable of existing without you as their guardian, for several reasons:
- You may not be the product decision maker
- You may not be in the room when a product decision is being made
- You may change teams or leave the company, so the context surrounding your findings will leave with you
It’s critical that your stakeholders understand and articulate your findings and recommendations. The way you share these findings is important—both for making your work known and for your company’s success.
Reports are one-dimensional
As researchers, we tend to share findings in a report, using Word or Google Docs or, in my case, Dropbox Paper. But a report only goes so far.
Reports are largely one-dimensional. They can’t bring those findings to life, and they aren’t the best at resonating with your stakeholders. Think about the last doc you read. How long did it take you to forget what it said?
While there might not be any way to get around having to write a report, you should not stop there. Here are six effective tools for sharing findings so that stakeholders will understand and believe them. In doing so, perhaps they will also become your advocates.
Tactical ways to make your findings come alive
When I first made this list, it was in a pre–COVID-19 world. Now, more than ever, we are competing with short attention spans and mental overload. I’ve added a few new suggestions to this toolbox for you to use in a virtual world.
How many of you have participated in a workshop? If you are a designer, you’ve likely participated in a design sprint or a How Might We (HMW) session. These activities are effective because they allow people to imagine, ideate, and create. They provide a space for stakeholders to dig into the details in a way that a report cannot, unless it’s lengthy.
Use a workshop to communicate your findings. Here’s one example we developed at Dropbox:
- Our researcher created user story cards based on her findings, to illustrate the needs that had surfaced
- She then paired up stakeholders and had them create HMWs using the story cards as guides
- The workshop participants voted on the HMWs they wanted to pursue, and walked out of the session with clear next steps
A workshop provides a creative space to explore design possibilities, and it gets stakeholders involved in a meaningful way by inviting them into the process. My research findings are only as good as their implementation, which is why I love using workshops as a vehicle for communication. Workshops inspire action.
With our work life mostly virtual these days, we are competing with numerous distractions and what feel like unique time constraints. We need to maximize the minutes of our workshop or presentation, and one way to do that is with a pre-read, which can include sending out related research or your own insights prior to the meeting. These can provide context for your stakeholders and allow more time for digging into the most important aspects of your work.
Keeping the audience engaged is key to bringing your findings to life. By using breakout rooms, you can provide an opportunity for engagement in almost any virtual platform.
Breakout rooms work well at the end of a presentation. Send a prompt to your audience. Divide them into smaller groups and have them discuss. This not only makes your presentation interactive, it also helps them understand your findings on a deeper level through peer discussion.