Sep 112014

Guest Post by Betty Adamou of Research Through Gaming, who was a keynote speaker at this year’s AMSRS Conference in Melbourne.

Let’s face it, Market Research conferences aren’t a place we normally associate with a few laughs (from the stage, it’s different off stage!), but not only did the AMSRS provide delegates with two comedians (one of which was a Market Researcher) but we also had presenters using humour to make some valid points.

These giggle-inducing moments were in the opening talks; Tom Ewing of BrainJuicer keynoted about Reasons to be Cheerful with his ever-present-on-Twitter co-presenter buddy ‘Old Man CrossTabs’ (@OldSchoolMRX on Twitter, if you’re interested in following) who would chime in every now and then during Toms talk with some words of wisdom, but was used to provide a stark contrast between the expectations of ‘Old MR’ (personified by Old Man CrossTabs) and ‘New MR’, brought to life through BrainJuicer case-studies and examples.

The next talk included a flying lettuce through the slides, meant to highlight to power of subliminal messaging and subconscious decisions. Interestingly, the presentation which included a flying lettuce in Leigh Caldwell’s talk didn’t make me want to choose lettuce for lunch, but did act as a trigger so that when I saw lettuce, I thought of Leigh’s talk, and subsequently, the Irrational Agency (where Leigh is a partner).

One of the stand-out presentations for me was by Daniel Bluzer-Fry presenting a case-study carried out with Betfair using mobile and, for the first time, focussed on user experience. However, this wasn’t testing the respondents’ experience of the mobile research methodology, no, it was to improve the experience users had of the BetFair mobile site, however the logic behind user centred design resonates strongly with why design is so important in research applications, be it online surveys, mobile surveys or online communities. During the panel discussion, I referenced this talk as a highlight and why savvy design-thinking for surveys is so important.

Conference talks aside, we were all absolutely spoiled in a perfectly paced conference program; as a delegate, I had enough time to hear the details I needed to calm my curiosity in all talks, without feeling rushed about.

And I know all conference committees care about their conference program and speakers, but the AMSRS had clearly placed a huge amount of effort into ensuring that varied, relevant, innovative and robust talks where chosen for presentation over the two days.

The other highlights I had were not actually talks; I enjoyed hearing about the Better Surveys Project spoken about by Peter Harris from Vision Critical. The project is a three-year study which aims to publicise a series of experiments to evidence the need of particular best practices to educate the industry on better survey design and execution. It is fantastic to see this kind of initiative in our industry and well done to all involved in that project!

The other non-talk highlight was a tribute to a researcher who had sadly passed away; John Young from Colmar Brunton. I know this may sound terribly morbid of me to add this as a highlight, but please hear me out: we so often hear about innovative methodologies, great case-studies and new technology which helps us help clients do things better, cheaper and faster, but this tribute reminded us that at the heart of all these developments and great work are researchers with passion, spirit and who genuinely care about other people, and their jobs as market researchers. It really brought the humanness of what we all do back home for me.

Another highlight was the award ceremony, presented by the researcher-turned-comedian, Sam McCool and a huge congratulations goes out to all the winners.

As a regular conference speaker, I always hope to hear and see great things on the stage and off the stage; AMSRS didn’t disappoint and I would definitely go back, even as a non-speaker. Thanks AMSRS for a fab event!


Jul 032014
Example of PowerPoint used by Ray Poynter at IIeX in Atlanta, June 2014

Well, to be more precise, if you want to present well, learn to be a good presenter using PowerPoint and then start experimenting with other options.

If you are a good presenter, you can present with PowerPoint, Prezi, without a screen, with a flip chart, or with interactive graphics. If you are not a good presenter, you will not be any better if you use the latest 3D, sound-a-round, animated, virtual presence.

The key to any presentation is the presenter. The reason that so many people give bad presentations with PowerPoint is that the presenter has not mastered the skills of presenting and has not created the right message/story. PowerPoint does not make you put too many words on the screen, it does not make you read every word, and it does not make you use bullet points.

In a standard PowerPoint configuration there are 9 default layouts. Of those 9, only 4 have bullet points as a standard option. When bullet points are a standard option, so are 6 other elements, such as a table or chart. So, out of 33 options in the standard set of layouts, just 4 of them include bullets – so why are so many slides using bullets? I think the answer is lack of imagination, lack of training, and lack of skill – but I don’t think it is because PowerPoint makes people do it.

The presenter needs to be clear about the message, they need to think about what they are going to say and how they are going to say it, and then support that with visual and animated aids that have been chosen (or created) to help them get their message across in the best way possible (usually engaging, informative, stimulating, and energising).

Have a look at Hans Rosling present at TED in the clip below. Yes, he makes great use of animated graphics – but then ask the question, would he still have been great if he had used simple slides? I think the answer is yes, the GapMinder material simply make great better. In fact, Rosling is using PowerPoint (or similar) for sections of his presentation.


Talk Like Ted – Book Review

 Posted by on March 26, 2014  Books, Business, Marketing, Presenting  Comments Off
Mar 262014
Talk Like Ted 2

I am a fan of books on presenting, especially good ones, and this new book by Carmine Gallo, TALK LIKE TED – The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, is definitely a good one. The approach Gallo has taken is to analyse over 500 Ted talks, looking at the videos, interviewing the speakers, and working with the people involved in making it happen.

The book highlights great Ted Talks, such as those by Hans Rosling, Amy Cuddy, and Amanda Palmer, and uses these to describe the lessons we can all learn from them. Gallo divides these lessons into three groups of three, and includes many of the well-known points about passion and storytelling. However, because TED talks are available via the web, we can read his descriptions and check out the videos – increasing our understanding of the points he is making, seeing them in action.

No book is going to be a complete solution, and I could quibble with some of the advice. For example, I would like the book to focus a bit more on identify the needs of a specific audience, and in my professional world I often have to deal with speakers and/or audiences who don’t share a common language, which can produce a different balance of words and images.

Most of the advice in the book is very sound and following that advice, watching the videos, and being more self-analytical would help any reader be a better presenter.


Feb 252014
Not for Pedestrian Use

Quite often when people talk about presentations they talk about the need to be engaging, amusing, and informative, or they talk about the need to use storytelling, visualisation, and performance skills. Whilst all of these have their place, for market researchers and insight professionals these factors only address the symptoms rather than the core need.

Market researchers and insight professionals give presentations for a reason, and in most cases the reason is to debrief a project or to pitch for a project. These presentations are not for entertainment (even though they should seek to be entertaining), these presentations are not just a ritual (although there are some elements of a presentation that should almost always be there). These presentations are there to achieve a business purpose, they need to be effective.

What is an effective presentation?
I think there are three key outcomes that define an effective presentation:

  1. They should make the audience want to hear from you again.
  2. They should communicate the key points you want to make.
  3. They should result in action.

Making the audience want to hear from you again
This is where things like engaging, timely, visual, amusing all come into play. As a presenter you want to develop your business relationship and you want future presentations to be effective. The best way of making future presentations effective is to make people want to attend your presentations. It is getting harder and harder to get senior client-side people to attend debrief meetings, if they know you are going to be engaging, informative, and timely they will be more likely to attend.

Communicate the key points
Communication is not about what messages you are sending, it is about what is received. There is a limit to how much new stuff the audience can take on board in any one meeting. You need to design the presentation so the key points are understood and remembered. Things like engagement are only useful if they help communicate the key ideas – games such as word bingo can reduce the ability of the audience to receive and internalise the key messages. An effective presentation builds in processes to check what has been received and understood, not just what has been said/shown.

Result in action
At a conference or in education the purpose of a presentation can be to inform the audience, in a theatre or after dinner the purpose of a presentation can be solely to entertain. However, in business, an effective presentation results in action. Sometimes that action might be to move forward with a project, sometimes it might be to find out further information, sometimes that action might be to cancel a project. An effective presenter ensures that the presentation can result in action and should follow-up to check what if any actions have happened. Sometimes it is necessary to give further input to ensure action happens.

Secrets of Effective Presentations
Very few presentations are effective. Very few of the engaging/entertaining presentations are actually effective. This is because they are not often designed with effectiveness as their key goal and sole reason – this is why I am talking about the secrets of effective presentations.

At the Singapore MRMW I am running a workshop on how to create and deliver effective workshops. If you are able to attend you can find out more by visiting the MRMW page, and you can get a 15% discount by using the code POSTE2014.

I will be making this material more generally available later in the year. Please let me know if you’d like to know more about effective presentations.


Dec 152013

For several years, when teaching presenting, I have been asking people to stand when they present and to adopt ‘high power’ body positions and avoid low power positions, for example not crossing your arms and legs, and not standing sideways on to the audience.

I arrived at this advice based on my own observations, tips from other trainers, and by applying learning from other fields – but there was limited, specific evidence for what I was saying.

However, I no longer need to rely on my homespun theories. Kristin Luck (a great presenter in her own right) has highlighted Amy Cuddy to me. Watch the video below, Amy Cuddy at TED, and you will understand the extent to which how you stand impacts a) how the audience receive your message, and b) the way you feel.

The ‘fake it till you make’ it part has two elements. Firstly, standing in a power position changes the chemicals in your brain to make you more confident, even though you are ‘pretending’ to be confident. Over time, you will change and you won’t be faking it. So faking it till you make it means getting a benefit in the short term and changing yourself in the mid-term.

Nov 282013

Posted by Lucy Davison, Keen as Mustard Marketing, UK.

As we race at alarming speed into the future, accessorised with new technologies, swathed in big data and seduced by social media, it is important to step back and reflect on the bigger picture. Sometimes on a day to day level it’s easy to forget that we are living through one of the greatest revolutions the world has seen – the digital revolution. The result of that revolution has been an unprecedented change in the way we communicate. Yet how much has the market research industry really kept up? In the 12 years I’ve spent in research I have seen the ways the World consumes information change radically – now we are used to Tweets, infographics, Instagram, vine and Facebook. And it has become the norm for newspapers and other media to present complex, data-rich stories in visually exciting ways. But during that time I have seen very little change in the way research information is shared. Most market research is still communicated via long PowerPoint presentations and reports.

Two years ago at an ESOMAR Congress, Lorna Walters from Reckitt Benckiser presented her audience with a 278 slide ‘summary’ she had been sent by a research agency. She pointed out that she could run a marathon faster than read the summary. You could hear the shock waves reverberate around the room; yet this is not an unusual situation.

The problem is more fundamental than simply changing to Prezi or sticking some pretty pictures or vox pops in to alleviate to boredom; researchers must become much better all-round communicators. We must learn to understand context, tell stories; package and sell ideas. I have been running a workshop on communicating insights for the past couple of years. We use an example of a real (anonymous) dreadful presentation and ask participants to work on it to improve it. We give teams as much of the context as we can and lots of data. We tell them to work from the data to build the story, create a powerful opening and make clear recommendations. Every single time we have done this exercise, using the same data set, the teams have come up with a different story, different ‘hook’ and different recommendations. So which is right? The ‘right’ answer is the one that is presented in the most compelling, motivating and memorable way – the one that the client or stakeholder listens to and the one that engenders action or reaction. This requires a different mind-set for a lot of researchers, but they are skills that can be taught.

For research to meet the challenges of the new media age, we need to radically rethink how we communicate and deliver our product. We must develop and integrate skills in story-telling and use professional design expertise to change how we get our message across. Or someone else will be doing it for us.

Keen as Mustard Marketing are supporters of this year’s Festival of NewMR, and you can see their booth in the NewMR eXhibition.

Click here to read other posts in this series.

Nov 242013

To help celebrate the Festival of NewMR we are posting a series of blogs from market research thinkers and leaders from around the globe. These posts will be from some of the most senior figures in the industry to some of the newest entrants into the research world.

A number of people have already agreed to post their thoughts, and the first will be posted later today. But, if you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to submit a post. To submit a post, email a picture, bio, and 300 – 600 words on the theme of “Opportunities and Threats faced by Market Research” to

Posts in this series
The following posts have been received and posted:

Nov 032013

As part of the preparation for the Festival of NewMR (2-6 December), we are running a study looking at the different sources of inspiration that contribute to market research thinking and innovation. The study is being supported, programmed, and fielded by Festival Gold Sponsor Survey Analytics.

Being co-creational by nature, and given that there is no good current research to ‘borrow from’, the draft questions are set out below in this post – or you can downloaded it from here. We’d love to hear your suggestions.

We are aiming to program the study Saturday 9th November, so suggestions before then would be greatly appreciated.

Draft Survey

What are the sources of market research inspiration?
This short survey has been sponsored and programmed by Survey Analytics, a Gold Sponsor of The Festival of NewMR 2013. The study looks into the places where market research draws its ideas and inspiration. The results will be presented at the Main Stage of the Festival and published via the NewMR website.

This study is purely about your opinions, there are no right and wrong answers, which is why there are no ‘don’t know’s. Nobody ‘knows’, we want opinions.

We are going to start the study thinking about books.

1) Recent Books
Which one of these recent books do you think is having the most impact on market research practice and thinking? (Select one)

  1. Predictably Irrational – Dan Ariely
  2. Switch – Chip and Dan Heath
  3. The Signal and the Noise – Nate Silver
  4. Thinking fast and slow – Daniel Kahneman
  5. To Sell is Human – Daniel H Pink
  6. Other (please specify)

2) Older Books
Which one of these slightly older books do you think has had the biggest impact on market research thinking? (Select one)

  1. Herd – Mark Earls
  2. The Long Tail – Chris Anderson
  3. The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
  4. The Wisdom of Crowds – James Surowiecki
  5. Wikinomics – Don Tapscott & Anthony Williams
  6. Other (please specify)

3) Wider Books
And, which one of these books do you think is having the biggest impact on the way companies are doing business? (Select one)

  1. Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
  2. Nudge – Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein
  3. Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
  4. The New Digital Age – Eric Schmidt & Jared Cohen
  5. To Sell is Human – Daniel H Pink
  6. Other (please specify)

4) Business Thinkers
Which one of these business thinkers, writers, bloggers do think is most relevant to today’s market researcher? (Select one)

  1. Warren Buffet
  2. Guy Kawasaki
  3. Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  4. Seth Godin
  5. Tom Peters
  6. Other (please specify)

5) Information Sources
Thinking about how you get your information about new market research, which one of these do you find most useful? (Select one)

  1. Blogs
  2. Company websites
  3. Facebook
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Twitter
  6. Other (please specify)

6) Presentation Thinkers
Which of the following would you most recommend to somebody wanting to improve their presenting? (select one)

  1. David McCandless
  2. Edward Tufte
  3. Presentation Zen
  4. Nancy Duarte
  5. TED Talks
  6. Other (please specify)

7) Key Region
Which region do you think will lead the way in new MR over the next five years? (Select one)

  1. Africa
  2. Asia Pacific
  3. Europe
  4. Middle East
  5. North America
  6. South & Central America
  7. None of them

8) Drivers of Change
Which one of the following is the most likely to improve the research we do over the next ten years? (Select one)

  1. Advances in technology
  2. Changes in the business landscape
  3. New thinking from business
  4. New thinking from mathematics, statistics, analytics & computing
  5. New thinking from psychology and the social sciences
  6. New thinking from market researchers
  7. Left field unknowns

We will also ask four demographics, Age, Sex, Country, and relationship to the research industry (e.g. buyer, seller, academic etc).

HT (hat tip) to Jon Puleston, the idea for this study came from Jon’s 2011 presentation at the Festival of NewMR where he created his own awards for transformative, events, sources, and technologies.

May 192013

1 It’s not your classic textbook
This book focusses on the questions that are part of the everyday practicalities of market research, the advice you don’t typically get from a textbook – the type of advice researchers would ideally have a mentor or more experienced colleague to ask – unfortunately not everyone has these support networks.

2 The contributors are practitioners
The content has been prepared by a team of experienced researchers, so the advice is relevant for researchers who are talking to clients, writing proposals, managing projects, developing questionnaires, analysing data, reporting results, etc.

3 A great resource for the generalist or research all-rounder
(Thanks to Sue Bell for emphasising this point.)
Many conferences and events, social media forums, and journals focus on specialist areas. This book, doesn’t cover everything, but aims to give a solid grounding on the basics, written and reviewed by experienced market and social research industry heavy weights who know what you need to know.

4 A balance between traditional and new techniques
The book covers the traditional areas – questionnaire design, qualitative, pricing research, B2B – as well as the emerging techniques, for example, communities and social media research.

5 A variety of views of expressed
In some areas of our profession there is not a consensus view – particularly in new and rapidly developing areas. This book highlights areas where consensus does not exist and presents the differing viewpoints.

6 The Client perspective is explored
Special attention is paid to one of the key relationships in market research, that of client and research provider, with an emphasis on the points of tension.

7 A Global Perspective
Unlike some textbooks, which focus on specific markets or regions, this book recognises many researchers are operating in international markets and also the issues and challenges faced by those working in markets with different levels of economic and technological development.

8 Ethics, Laws, Codes and Guidelines
As could be expected of book put together by ESOMAR, the book explains in simple and clear terms why we have these and how to fit them into everyday research.

9 Advice for both new researchers and more experienced researchers who are new to a topic
Thanks to Phyllis Macfarlane for emphasising this point.

10 It’s great value, at 20 Euros (including postage and packaging)
And, if you like it so much you want to bulk order for colleagues, clients, or students – better prices are available via ESOMAR!

Join us at the book launch
On Wednesday, 22 May, ESOMAR and NewMR are holding a virtual book launch, where contributors to the book will explain the book’s mission, its content, and more about how you can be involved. Click here to find out more details and to register to attend.

So what do you think?

Declaration of interest, I am one of the Editors and Curators of the project (as was NewMR’s Ray Poynter) – Sue York

Feb 022013

I spent Wednesday last week chairing the first day of the MRMW conference in Kuala Lumpur, a well-attended event with participants and contributors from around the globe. The conference highlighted a number of key trends about mobile market research (MMR), including:

  1. Mobile is still, and perhaps increasingly, a hot topic for a wide cross-section of buyers, users, and providers of research.
  2. One key trend from the conference was that although smartphones are great for qual, and whilst some interesting work is happening on tablets, and despite the need to use feature phones at the moment, the future of most MMR (by volume and value) will be via smartphones and will relate to quantitative research.
  3. Several of the presentations highlighted that a key challenge, with MMR, is sourcing an appropriate sample. However, this problem is being reduced by the growing number of mobile panels that are springing up around the world, and the adoption of mobile-enabled research communities.
  4. Another challenge for MMR is the issue of how to fit a mode that focuses on short surveys (2, 3, 5, or perhaps 10 minutes) into a market where surveys have been getting longer and longer (30, 40, and even 60 minutes). The general agreement is that MMR is not a replacement technology for doing long surveys, it has its own strengths and these are the key to what it should be used for.
  5. In the future, indeed now, passive data, questionnaires, and social media need to be integrated – mobile will be key to this integration, but the integration will require a big data competence (which in turn implies utilising people like data scientists).
The feeling from the audience at MRMW was that what the research industry needs now are more case studies, more RoR, and more ‘best practice’ guides.

I am particularly keen on this area as I am working with Navin Williams to put together an online learning course for MMR and after that a book – more on both soon. If you have material that you’d like to contribute to the course or the book, please drop me an email, or LinkedIn message, or Twitter DM.