Over the course of 2016, I managed a research project for Sitecore that explored the rapidly developing expectations of consumers that interact with brands over their mobile devices, and whether those brands can effectively keep up and compete for their attention. As part of that work, I presented the results at a range of conferences, webinars, and events, including a two week series of roundtable lunches in Australia and New Zealand.
During that series, I kept a travelogue of my escapades. It’s fascinating to read it again now, as I learned a lot about different audiences and how they react to market research findings.
Here’s a bit of detail about my experience and what I discovered over that fortnight.
Monday 22nd August - Brisbane
Having eaten my body weight in Tim Tams, I feel fully culturally immersed and ready to begin sharing Sitecore’s research data at the first event.
A decent attendance is expected in Brisbane and so it proves with a good crowd of friendly faces sat around the wide table. This first event has been a long time in the making and for me it acts as a useful test case for what is to come later in the week – which bits spark most conversation, and which areas elicit the most questions.
It is also a first airing of my planned introduction – a why-it’s-great-to-be-here slideshow of photos, British self-mockery and (of course) Home and Away references. It’s followed by four short, colourful-chart filled sections, each intended to encourage discussion as opposed to subjecting everyone to a two hour lecture.
This turns out to be a fairly quiet group and we look to tease out participation with numerous open questions and shows of hands. I circulate a handout highlighting the key results of the research which is well received.
I definitely feel that I have a good way to get people engaged in the results by the presentation’s conclusion. Show just a few stats, ask the room if the findings resonate with them, and give a summary to take away to encourage further debate.
I intend for this to be my standard approach for the rest of the series, but I quickly find that each audience is very different!
Tuesday 23rd August - Perth
Today’s gathering is a slightly smaller scale and the cosier room reflects this.
The smaller group helps to unlock a little more interaction than the day before and the slides spark some nice conversations around how different organisations are approaching mobile. There is a real mixture of organisations in the room, from betting to board shorts, and this makes it a very interesting session. Today we dive into the handout in a little more detail, taking through each area, which seems to resonate with the group.
It definitely feels that a smaller group is more willing to engage and discuss the results in detail. Even the summary handout, designed as a takeaway for later reflection, is something that generated plenty of debate. It shows me how much I need to tailor my approach based on the size of audience.
Wednesday 24th August - Melbourne
Working in competition with the distractingly panoramic river views behind me, today’s session is very lively with lots of discussion and questions.
In a slight twist, some challenge the data. It is always interesting to gain further context and comparison to the findings. It’s key to allow people to state their experience, even when it clashes with the research findings. It makes for a much livelier and more engaging debate, and can often be answered with data not included in the presentation.
It is clear that many in attendance are well on their way when it comes to mobile capabilities and are eager to benchmark themselves against others. We finish up and spend some time chatting with attendees keen to learn more about the research and share their own experiences.
Thursday 25th August - Melbourne
I set out for the day’s event in an intimate British restaurant tucked away in the side streets. The close setting, with all public sector attendees, allows for a much more collaborative discussion and I don’t really feel like I am presenting at all.
The slide deck has been tailored to focus in on stats specific to this public sector audience and this helps to generate lots of interest and questions. It is particularly interesting to observe the difference between what today’s attendees are doing versus those from the private sector in the meetings earlier in the week.
Making sure the stats are relevant to the audience meant that it landed well. In fact, today’s event is the first that felt much more of a discussion than a presentation for this reason, though the small group no doubt helped too.
Friday 26th August - Adelaide
There was uncertainty beforehand on how many people would turn up today but the first trickle of attendees soon turned into a tide and we found ourselves at full capacity.
It strikes me right away that the noise and conversation level has turned up a gear in Adelaide and every single slide seems to spark off conversations and questions within the group. At times I find myself simply listening in as people jostle to get a word in, describing their own organisations and challenging each other. Giving attendees the space to talk and debate the results compared to their experience is key to making sure that the audience stay engaged.
As a result, this was a very different, but very enjoyable event and we go right up to our allotted time.
Tuesday 30th - Sydney
The Sydney event proves to be another busy one. To the usual mixture of laughter and groans at my Home and Away anecdotes, we dive right in to the sixth meeting.
Although the event goes well, the room layout doesn’t promote perhaps the same level of interaction as with previous events. Pitching the flow of conversation to account for this bigger audience definitely helped, and shows just how important it is to change the presentation depending on the number of people attending.
Thursday 1st September - Auckland
Between today and the previous meeting, I have spent some time tweaking the slides to draw out the New Zealand stats a little more and of course de-Home and Away my introduction!
As we get into the content, it is fascinating to see the contrast between Australian and New Zealand audiences. The audience are interested in their own results, but love to see how they compare to their Australian counterparts. Knowing local opinion allows me to deliver a presentation that generates a very warm reception indeed.
The whole experience was hugely enjoyable. Not only did I get to see some beautiful parts of the world, I learned so much about how to deliver market research presentations in a really engaging and fun way.
Here are my top tips:
- Make the presentation deck as short as possible by only focusing on a handful of data points
- Encourage discussion rather than make people listen to you droning on
- Create a handout for people to reflect on, allowing them to talk about the results among themselves
- Smaller groups are much more willing to discuss and engage in the results
- People challenging the results is a good thing and only makes people engage in the discussion even more
- Tailor the presentation to the audience. Contextualising the research to show how people like them answered the questions makes it much more interesting
- Play to the sympathies and interests of the audience if you can
The great thing is that these points aren’t just true of market research presentations! All of these can apply to any presentation at all.
I’m hoping to use these pointers again and again this year for many clients, and the rest of the team are discussing their own learnings as they perform similar work too. Onwards and upwards!
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