I was recently asked to offer some tips on debriefing senior stakeholders for VoxPopMe’s Perspectives vlog (if you’re curious, you can hear my thoughts around 5:31).

At Hook Research, we frequently present our findings to stakeholders at the top of the food chain and I thought that this video would be a great opportunity to share some of my experiences debriefing individuals in the c-suite. While taking part in the video was a great exercise in corralling my thoughts around the subject – and it’s always wonderful to take part in a dialogue in this space – 60 seconds isn’t a vast amount of time to get your point across.

So if you’ll indulge me, I thought I’d expand upon the topic here. In my opinion, these are the three things that any researcher should keep in mind when debriefing senior stakeholders.

1. Keep your research actionable and grounded

We’ve all seen them: insights that are considered deeply profound by their creators – paradigm-shifting, even – but which lack a firm grounding in the day-to-day objectives of a company.

Blue-sky idealism certainly has a place in market research, but it needs to be remembered that high level stakeholders rarely have time for this luxury: these stakeholders are looking for clear insights that resolve pressing research queries. What they’re not looking for are scattershot insights that make granular points but lack business application.

It is of particular importance when debriefing senior stakeholders (but also key, surely, to keep in mind when crafting all pieces of research) that outputs are not only well thought out but provide answers in a way that empowers stakeholders to take action in a positive way.

Debriefing Senior Stakeholders - Hook Research2. Be an advisor not a researcher

A good presentation to the c-suite will not only be built on a careful analysis of the research area in question, but will be shaped by an understanding of each stakeholders’ personal objectives. These motives aren’t too hard to find and can be gathered in multiple ways: by reading through interviews with a stakeholder; op-eds that they’ve penned about their aspirations for the company’s growth; or, if you’re lucky enough, one-on-one time with them where you can talk about their needs. Each of these ways (or a combination of all three!) are keys to unlocking this understanding.

The goal here is ascending from a researcher to the role of advisor: someone who not only understands a research query in depth, but how the findings uncovered in the process can best support the growth of each stakeholder’s own ambitions for the company.

3. Remember: they’re just normal people

Ultimately, though, the best advice I can give when debriefing senior stakeholders is to remember that they are just normal people: the c-suite are individuals (albeit, very busy individuals) who just want to be informed and entertained.

It’s thus vitally important that research is presented in a way that conveys findings in a clear, straight-forward manner while simultaneously keeping them engaged with insights through an appropriate presentation style (whether that be good design, powerful video, or other strong, visual elements).

What are your tips for debriefing senior stakeholders?

So those are my thoughts – what are yours? Have I missed anything?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share any tips you might have on our Twitter and LinkedIn pages – or you can always write to me directly at enquiries@hookresearch.co.uk.

Author Nick

Nick has been helping media brands – both client and agency side – for over 20 years. He is particularly interested in getting to know respondents’ real worlds by developing methods to gain deeper, more useful insights.

More posts by Nick
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