I probably don’t need to tell you about the power of a good story.

I’m sure you can think of many stories that have stuck with you over the years from books, movies and even anecdotes.

I don’t think Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life will ever leave me, nor will the story from my friend about The Apprentice candidate she knew at uni!

How many statistics have stuck with you over the years? I’m guessing not as many, maybe not any?!

Using story-telling to debrief quant research makes sense to me; it’s easier for the audience because it’s structured, familiar and (hopefully!) more enjoyable.

Sold in theory but wondering what this means in practice?

I use the following (and a few other secret ingredients!) as guiding principles to make sure I produce debriefs that deliver.

Knowing when to choose cats

Some people are cat people, some people are dog people, some people are simply animal people. A story aimed at dog people featuring cats isn’t going to resonate. As a client-side researcher, you probably have several different stakeholders with their own priorities for the research and preferences for how findings are presented. Understanding what you need to deliver internally helps me to ensure the end result will connect with your end audience.

Making like an Egyptian

In other words following the pyramid principle, where I start with the key finding as a simple, single thought (the top of the pyramid) and then build out the evidence for this, eventually creating the base of the pyramid. This is a well-established approach to communicating ideas because the answer is clear from the start (and when it comes down to it the answer is why you’re here!), and the supporting evidence is logically organised and contextualised at every step.

Writing fact, not fiction

Research debriefs, even when following the principles of storytelling, need to stay true to the data. I start with thorough analysis, fleshing out the findings and leaving no analysis stone unturned. Only then can the debrief take shape as a coherent story that succinctly and accurately addresses your objectives.

Interested in telling a story together?