Knowledge Sharing and How to WOW!

People linked around the world

Do you work in one of the many organisations that conduct market surveys, or in a department that provides information services internally, only to see your findings dismissed or even worse ignored? If so then maybe I can help you end this frustration.

Over my years working with companies in such diverse people-facing industries as Finance, CPG / FMCG, Leisure, Transport, Pharmaceuticals, Technology and Retail, I have noticed that they were all struggling with the one same area; that of turning information and knowledge, into underst anding and insight, and then actioning their discoveries. There were many reasons for this, sometimes even multiple reasons, but in the end I was able to help them to overcome this and to start taking the necessary actions that resulted in business growth. Let me explain how.

Insight development is often likened to an “Aha moment”; if insight is the Aha, then action has to be the WOW! And I know which most companies would rather have. Therefore I thought I would share with you the five ways I have found to be the most useful in wowing business to take the right action following a period of information and knowledge gathering:

#1. Simplification

One of the most common criticisms I hear of market research and insight people is that they remain in their own little worlds, almost preferring not to leave their offices and the safe haven of their computers, for the real world of business. As if this wasn’t bad enough, when they do “come out” they seem to prefer to speak in a language of statistics and psychology, appearing almost to like the fact that the rest of us don’t really underst and what they are saying.

Solution: If you want to share your findings and get management to back your recommendations, then you need to help them underst and what you are saying. Keep the presentations short, the slides if you are using them, to a minimum, and the “so what” rather than the “what” at the forefront of the presentation or discussion.

#2. Visualisation

Whether it is the 200 tables from a quantitative study, or the 200-word slides from a focus group, market research presentations can be deathly boring! It is said that a picture is worth a thous and words, and sometimes a million numbers! Use graphs and visualisation wherever you can, instead of words. However, this doesn’t mean graphing every number found and showing every cross-tab from every question asked. Visualisation can also mean showing pictures of users, the product or a diagram of how it is being used.

Solution: Infographics have become extremely popular in recent years for one very obvious reason; they make information interesting and attractive again. If you can’t develop an Infographic on the topic, at least ensure that your graphs replace and don’t duplicate your results and words. Use colour-coded dashboards to highlight trends and pictures wherever possible.

#3. Storytelling

History has relied on storytelling down through the ages for the transfer of information from one generation to the next. It is the most natural way for humans to share knowledge and ideas and technology has not replaced this, only enhanced it. However storytelling takes different skills than does analysis since it requires that the findings be shared in an appealing and attractive way. I am sure you agree with me that there are many great market research agencies, but not all of them are good at telling stories, but the best most definitely are.

Solution:  Knowledge that is shared as a story enables everyone in the company to underst and in the same way, the complexities of the customer, across businesses, departments and cultures. It is also a more engaging and memorable way to do so, than simply sharing numbers and graphs alone. Some of the best publicly available examples that you can see are on TED, where speakers must present in under 20 minutes and in most cases, they get their message across in much less than this. How much time would we all save if we made this a rule for all presentations? If nothing else, keeping things short brings more focus and a greater need for a clear story in the time allowed.

#4. Analysis Paralysis

When I was first starting in my career, being precise and correct was what I strived for, and luckily for me, it came naturally since I was born in the astrological sign of Virgo. However, over the years, I have learned that even when I was precise I wasn’t always right, so why get hung up on it? Today, I am just as comfortable working with gut-feelings and imprecision, as I am with precision and statistics. However, what is more important than anything, is to clearly lay out what has come out of all the analysis, data and knowledge; what it all means to the business and what actions must be taken.

Solution: This doesn’t mean I recommend you invent results, but I am suggesting that you don’t ignore findings because they are “only” 94% or 89% validated by statistical testing. If the result is substantiated throughout the analysis, then there is a pretty good chance it is right. Storytelling doesn’t come across too well if every sentence is qualified by a confidence interval or a comment about sample size.

#5. Watching and Listening

You are certainly going to tell it as it is – with the one reserve I just mentioned above – aren’t you? Well sometimes it is not enough. Even if you followed every interview and read every transcript, your audience most certainly hasn’t, so forgive them if they doubt what you are saying, especially if it goes against what they were originally thinking internally.

Solution: There needs to be more than just one person telling the story. I don’t mean to present in pairs, or worse, as the whole team that worked on the project (which I have actually once seen when the agency knew their results were not going to be popular!) but share what you have learned in a more interactive way. Which do you think is going to hit the message home more succinctly; reading “your product is too liquid” or seeing a consumer with the product falling off their fork, or between their fingers when trying to use it?

When possible, add some audio and video clips to a presentation. Not only do they bring your message to life, but they also add the reality of consumers’ lives to the business world – a life many of your audience will not in fact be living themselves.

If you use these five ways to improve your knowledge sharing, I am sure that you will find improved interest in and appeal of your presentations and discussions and a greater willingness to action your recommendations.

Do you have a question or challenge about knowledge sharing or improving your presentations? I am sure I can help; just contact me here  and I’ll respond personally.

Do you have other ways for sharing your information and findings that get the reactions and actions you are looking for? I would love to hear about your own successes, just add them below.

Please share this post and retweet it to your colleagues who might find it useful or may have their own stories to share.

For more information on knowledge sharing, storytelling and presenting, please check out our website: and/

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