Ideally, effective research results presentations start at the beginning of the process with involvement from stakeholders in defining the purpose of the research and then planning its execution. However, even without thorough front-end homework, results presentations can be a dynamic launching pad for improvement and innovation because they foster buy-in, focus, shared learning and teamwork.
Effective presentations create a common focus on current states, trends and the real issues so the group can spend its time wisely on generating ideas and developing solutions. A prioritization exercise is a powerful team-building tool to get everyone on the same page. Ask participants to prioritize the major issues and action steps. Then, have them collectively reach a consensus on next steps toward improvement. To raise interest in learning the results of the research, use a perception prediction exercise. Ask everyone to "predict" what respondents said in surveys or focus groups. This stimulates discussion of diverse points of view and creates buy-in because everyone is curious to learn if they were right.
Enrolling people in a cause and giving them authorship of the future are critical steps in producing change. When people have input into the purpose of the research and are allowed to impact decisions and actions, they are more likely to care about the outcome. Presentations are also a defensive weapon to keep an institution from falling behind. Today, the most successful organizations are knowledge-based; it's more about having better information than better products. Knowledge-based organizations practice collective, organizational learning followed by adaptation and improvement. Research results presentations foster such shared learning experiences.
Organizations that do not present the results of their research, either internally or through a third party, miss a tremendous opportunity for collective learning, enrollment and authorship for future success. They do not leverage the knowledge they have gained and, therefore, decrease their return on investment in the research.
Neil Goldman is President of Member Research. He can be reached at 310- 643-5910 or ngoldman<at>memberresearch.com.