Guest post by Amelia Wong
ESTABLISH YOUR GAME PLAN
The audience’s time is valuable. The stakeholder wants to know that the UX professional is effectively achieving the goals and the team is all on the same page. Initially clarifying objectives helps all parties understand what the expectations of the project will be, topics to be discussed, and what has been accomplished.
The objectives should be mentioned up front, within the first page of the report. In a presentation, the objectives should be mentioned as the first topic on the agenda. Objectives should cover what the UX professional hopes to achieve, steps being done to achieve these goals, and what next steps are planned.
SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE
Depending on audience, language must be reframed for the audience to understand the key points. Are the audience members technical? What are the audience’s goals? Stakeholders may not understand what MVPs and personas are and what these concepts represent. Assuming that the audience understands the User Experience terminology causes user confusion, unease, and feelings of ignorance. Instead, use language that is “close to home” for the audience. For example, if speaking to stakeholders in the sales industry, mentioning “user experience” in terms of “customer experience” may help the audience grasp the concept easier.
Another example of effective language reframing is avoiding the term “interviews”. “Interviews” are often associated with job interviews, uncomfortable situations, and being put on the spot. When asking for an interview or mentioning findings from interviews, the phrases “asking a few questions” or “inquiries” can put stakeholder users at ease, reduce stress, and create a more open environment where the audience is open to dialog.
BRING THE EYE CANDY: VIDEO/VISUALS
When presenting to stakeholders, an optimal channel to deliver information is through videos. A short 3-minute video can catch stakeholders’ attention and deliver key findings across the board far more efficiently than 20 extra report pages or 4 more deck slides. Videos can be used to complement a report, but cannot completely replace a report. Some more traditional industries may still require paper reports and it is best to err on having a short, effective user research report on hand than relying completely on video.
Draw stakeholders into the experience in reports. Copy can only get the point across so far, but more than half of the words on a piece of paper are often not read. Attention is scarce and words on a page do not hold it for long. Instead of focusing on copy, recreate the experience for the stakeholders to bring them into the user experience far more efficiently.
Visuals are helpful in bringing the audience in to get them as close to the action. Examples of compelling visuals are emotive pictures, impactful infographics, or interactive gifs. Effective visuals may incite emotion, make the user think, or tell a great story.
TELL A GREAT STORY
A work with an effective story is understood when it stands alone. Some stories are visual, some audial, and other stories are told through various mediums. Regardless of medium, stories can be best told through experiences. An example of storytelling through experiences is bringing the audience into the experience. When working with an engineering team, bringing the engineering team on user research trips is very effective in bridging the gap between development and design. Engineers understand the design thinking behind features and iterations, see the user journey and frustration in using the product, and are able to best connect with their users by seeing users in-person.
When an in-person experience is unavailable, visuals can just as effectively tell a strong story. Data and impactful infographics can be displayed as attractive visuals to provide the audience with visual “candy”. However, an effective researcher also provides a strong story behind their quantitative data to bring in context. The story provides the functional background –why is the infographic where it is located? How does the visual increase value by its location? What does the infographic or picture aim to do? If the audience can answer all these questions, the visual storytelling abilities are effective.
CONNECT THE DOTS: HOW DOES IT MATTER?
After hearing the story, the audience wants to know how it impacts them. Using empathy, demonstrate how the story relates to the user by connecting the story and findings to results. How does the story lead back to the initial objectives and findings? What has been achieved?
Results are essential conclusions the audience is interested in. Discussing the impact, implementation, or reactions to the designs show that the designs have effected change. If test results have not been conclusive, next steps are also important to show what progress is projected from the current status. Next steps show the stakeholder change is being made and to look forward to future developments.
Trained as an intellectual property attorney, Amelia brings technology to reality through design. She bridges form and function by creating beautiful things that work. Amelia has experiences with strategy and product innovation. Most recently, she has designed Alexa voice interactive experiences and chatbots. Driven by creativity, Amelia offers detailed-focused solutions to solve problems.