Just as the warm-up act sets the stage for the headliner, laying down foundational user research reporting practices paves the way for more advanced strategies that can engage your audience and inspire them into action. 

By moving away from basic reports and adopting innovative techniques, you can transform your data into a compelling narrative that aligns with business goals, leading to increased attention and quick, decisive action.

This level of reporting goes beyond data. It's about turning learning into stories that stick. 

Incorporating creativity, improvisation, and character makes your research reports and presentations more memorable. I’ll scream it from the rooftops: “Advanced, progressive reports are also way more fun to design!” 

In this article, I share techniques for making simple research reports more interesting and inspiring. I like to think of this as moving from a dry, dull, expected monologue into a more experiential, interactive dialogue. I try to make sure every note resonates with a specific purpose and speaks volumes. 

Advanced user research reporting

Include analytical and strategic content

For a more advanced approach to reporting, I like to think holistically about what content I’m sharing. I look at it from all different angles – strategically, visually, audibly, and interactively – to make sure I include varied content. I also consider the core research topic and the culture of the organization

Extracting actionable insights can certainly guide strategic decisions, but there’s boatloads of opportunity to kick this up several notches. Here are some ideas to consider.

Advanced user research reporting
  • Include options or critical inflection points that highlight a path forward. This helps to foster real-time dialogue.

  • Show contrast. Demonstrate the pain points and the opportunities to solve them. Showcase the emotional and the rational. Bringing these contrasts to life can be extremely effective!

  • Share a video walkthrough showing the current and proposed experiences. Annotating concepts and creating prototypes that stem from your learning can also be powerful.

  • Incorporate charts, diagrams, and other graphics. Data visualization can be a great way to simplify complex information, share context, and add depth.

  • Suggest areas for future research that highlight learning gaps and new questions that arise as a result of the study.

  • Triangulate data from multiple sources, such as customer feedback or product reviews, to increase the credibility of your conclusions. This helps to reinforce the narrative with a robust evidence base.

  • Make sure your report clearly connects to the business value, impact, or opportunity. Articulate how the insights from your study directly influence business outcomes, strategic direction, or market position. Highlighting this connection makes the research not just informative but actionable, aligning closely with organizational goals and demonstrating the tangible benefits of your findings.

Build empathy

Empathy is at the heart of user research. Task analyses, journey maps, and personas are all tools that help the people who consume our research learnings “walk in our participants’ shoes”. 

These elements should go beyond simply informing, however. Strive to evoke feelings to bridge the gap between ‌data and human experience. Show tensions, similarities, and differences. Bringing these research learnings to life also creates visual interest and helps in recalling information. 

No joke, I once gave an entire presentation with illustrations of tomatoes! I played on the phrase, “You say tomaTOE, I say toMAH-to.” To this day, people still refer to it as the “tomato” deck. The audience loved it, and it was incredibly memorable. 

A background in design is definitely an asset when creating memorable reports that build empathy. My first degree is in design, and I am so grateful for these skills! If you aren’t design-savvy, ask someone to help you. Tools like Lucidchart, Beautiful.ai, Freepik, and Wordart.com can also provide tremendous assistance and inspiration.

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Introduce humor and interactivity

Adding humor (when appropriate) to reports can be super fun and unexpected. New Yorker-style cartoons, video or audio voiceovers, music, and memes can be fantastic additions to add levity, build suspense, and create other moods. 

If you’re presenting your report live, including polls, a Q&A session, and running workshop activities are terrific ways to turn passive listeners into active attendees. 

Role-playing and interactive demos also offer a hands-on understanding of the topic and can spark innovation, discussion, and empathy.

Leverage visual and dynamic content

Using both static and dynamic content can make or break how engaging your presentation is. I love creating visual aids like charts, diagrams, and storyboards to distill complex information into digestible pieces. 

Annotations and highlight reels can really help bring insights and other important takeaways home, too. 

Making your message impossible to ignore and using a combination of techniques to get it across speaks to different types of learners. While some will be number-centric and others will prefer listening to audio clips, everyone loves a good story. And we all know the adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Advanced user research reporting

Incorporate storytelling

Strive for your report not just to inform but also to move your audience. Storytelling techniques (incorporating well-designed visuals, relevant video and audio clips, and humor) forge emotional connections and make sure recommendations don't just linger in the mind but spark action. 

Striving to present your data from various perspectives can further influence stakeholder decisions, making the narrative more relatable and persuasive.

Balance qualitative and quantitative data

Balancing qualitative insights with quantitative data requires finesse. I generally don't include numbers (such as “six out of 10 participants …”) into my qualitative shareouts. Instead, I’ll say “the majority” or “the vast majority.” 

If I do include numbers, I make certain to contextualize them with disclaimers to set realistic expectations for the audience and to underscore that qualitative sample sets may not be generalizable to a wider audience. 

I include this disclaimer physically next to any numbers and make sure to say this aloud if I’m presenting so anyone watching hears it as well. This also builds trust and can foster a more meaningful dialogue with stakeholders.

Maximize your research impact

When ‌crafting an advanced report, think beyond the immediate presentation. Use it as an opportunity to make sure your efforts are well-documented and seed ideas for future research. 

Recording yourself delivering the final report, with you presenting your learnings with context and inflection, will help your future self and anyone else watching it learn about the topic down the road. Encouraging stakeholders to add comments and questions, and to think long-term and consider how today's information can inform tomorrow's innovations and decision-making, is also powerful and adds significant depth. 

These forward-thinking approaches guarantee that your research has a lasting impact, extending its relevance and utility.

Pilot your research presentation

When you get ‌creative with your research report, it’s imperative that you pilot it before your live event. I recommend recording yourself, presenting everything from soup to nuts, and then watching the recording. Critique your performance. Pay close attention to ‌timings, any sections that need clarification, whether the media plays as intended, inflection points, and everything else. 

Additionally, pilot with a stakeholder and ask them to add super-difficult naysayer questions so you can be even more prepared. Piloting is paramount. 

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Get creative with your user research reports 

Moving from basic to more advanced user research reports is super fun. For me, it’s an ongoing practice of creative tinkering and learning. Each report and presentation is an opportunity to experiment with new formats, to explore innovative ways of engaging with my audience, and to elevate the impact of my research. I love adding my curiosity and creativity to design memorable events and trying new techniques and methodologies. 

Again, my goal isn't just to share, but to inspire and effect change. I strive to move my reports from monologues to dialogues. 

I hope you’re inspired to try some new tactics and have more fun with your research reports.


This article was authored by Michele Ronsen, Founder and CEO of Curiosity Tank. Michele is a user research executive, coach and educator. She teaches design and user research to people around the world. Her corporate trainings and workshops are inspired by working with Fortune 500s and start-ups for more than twenty years. Fuel Your Curiosity is her award-winning, free, user-research newsletter. In 2020, LinkedIn honored Michele with a TopVoices award in the Technology category. She is the first and only researcher to receive this award. 

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