During the recruitment process for jobs in market research, strategy, insight or analytics, you may be asked to prepare a presentation. Here we offer advice and tips on preparation and delivery.
The competition for candidates with data analysis skills continues to increase. Therefore, it’s even more critical for individuals to demonstrate excellent storytelling skills and explain complex data insights in a concise, user-friendly manner. Market research presentations give applicants the chance to showcase hard and soft skills as well as commercial awareness – helping prospective employers decide who’s most suitable for the job.
A presentation assesses several specific skills. These include time management, storytelling, communication skills, creativity, the ability to build relationships as well as practical skills in data analysis, research design or project management.
Before you start, make sure you understand what the brief is asking you to do and how you should approach it. Questions you should ask include:
• How creative do you need to be? How will you showcase this?
• What format do you need to present? (e.g. Powerpoint, Video, Adobe, Excel) • How much time do you have?
• What criteria will be used to assess you?
Consider how this task might fit into the bigger picture of the role:
• Do you need to make recommendations or just summarise your findings?
• Can you support your argument with evidence?
• Are you clear in your communication and overall presentation?
• Find out who’s attending/reviewing your market research presentation.
• Knowing your audience will help guide how to pitch your story. Your audience may include several different stakeholders, all of whom might have a vested interest in identifying the right candidate. The panel might consist of: Line Managers, HR officers, CEO/MD, a member from another team or department, a senior representative of a specific client account.
• See if you can find out who will be attending and what their roles are within the company. Once you’ve identified this, consider what information you think might be most relevant to them? What recommendations could you make that they would each take from your insights? Remember, technical jargon is not familiar to everyone, so choose your language carefully in a format that’s easy to understand.
It’s your job as a presenter to make every member of the audience feel involved with the story. Think about who they are and what they might be looking for. A Director, for example, might be looking for someone who is going to innovate and add value to their business. On the other hand, a client representative might be looking for someone they can trust, who sounds knowledgeable and can give good advice.
Give yourself enough time to prepare your presentation. Look at what the task is, even if your market research presentation deadline is a week or two away. Allocate enough time in your schedule, making sure you allow for work deadlines, weekend trips, or any other commitments which may affect your deadline.
Make sure you have a clear story and a clear structure. How you present your story is just as important. Your presentation in market research should have a logical sequence:
– Core (divided into different slides with subheadings, each starting with a sentence outlining the slide topic)
The introduction sets the scene, describes the topic/problem/question and explains the journey you have taken to create your presentation. Sometimes this may include your methodology or sources, or you may decide to put these in footnotes.
The core of the market research presentation is usually the journey taken through data and insights to tell a story. Here you might make observations about trends or patterns in the data, explaining your observations and what that means, supporting them with the most relevant facts. Your slides should follow a logical pattern that’s easy to understand and will gradually build towards the overall storyline. If using Powerpoint, each slide should be clear and concise with simple headers.
In some instances, instead of presenting something from scratch, you’ll be asked to choose the most relevant slides and write headers to summarise the key insights.
People relate to what they see. There’s more and more emphasis on data visualisation as a way of communicating complex information in a simple, accessible format. Data visualisation is a way to show your creativity and is so important when trying to communicate what large sets of data mean. Using charts, graphs, patterns, images, infographics, for example, are great ways to explain large sets of data. For more ideas on data visualisation, then we recommend David Mccandless’s books such as Information Can be Beautiful.
The key message here is to keep it simple, engaging and easy to understand.
Use evidence from data provided and always try to include some relevant visuals/charts/graphs/stats/quotes.
Try to keep words simple, avoiding complex terminology. Use a client logo if you are presenting to the client.
Each slide should have clear, concise and engaging headers.
Don’t forget to cite the source of your findings in the footer. Use primary sources and don’t copy and paste from Wikipedia.
As mentioned previously, footnotes are a great and easy way of recording any additional facts or data you might need to refer to during your market research presentation. They can be used to locate information which is relevant if questioned further, but which you may not feel necessary to include in the main body.
Often people think presenting is an opportunity to show off additional skills or knowledge about a topic that is not part of the original brief. While this might help you stand out, showing you have put some extra thought into your presentation, you shouldn’t allow it to dominate at the expense of all the other requested facts/sources.
If you are applying for a market research job where analysing social media insights is central to the role, then be sure to include some social media insights in your presentation. Similarly, if you are applying for a quantitative research role, then don’t just rely on qualitative insights. If they want you to design a framework to classify particular data then explain your approach. Always make sure you stick to the brief.
You will usually be questioned about your market research presentation once you’ve completed it, allowing you to shine and show your personality and skills. You should also prepare, however, to be asked questions throughout the task. Many of our clients feel that the Q&A session is the most telling part of a task. It gives the job seeker the chance to answer any questions and discuss in more detail their reasons for making the conclusions they did. It can also demonstrate how you would handle questions from your client.
If there are no questions, why not ask your audience for any specific feedback. It’s not complicated, a simple question will do, i.e. “What did you think of my presentation?” “Do you agree with my conclusions?”
Possible end of session questions:
– Why did you make that conclusion?
– How did you go about your research?
– Why did you not include this data?
– What would you change now we have discussed this further?
– What other pieces of information would you have asked for if you were doing this in your day to day role?
– How did you think that went for you?
While your audience may not agree 100% with what you communicate, they do expect the person presenting to reasonably and rationally explain why they made certain decisions and understand how they approached the task.
You should practice reading through your market research presentation. Again, this is where the supportive ear of a friend or colleague could be helpful. If you know you get nervous in these situations, then don’t avoid practising again and again. Firstly, you will be giving yourself time to work out how long you will need from start to finish. Secondly, you may find that when you go through your story, you realise you have made a mistake or left out something critical. Thirdly, practice will give you a thorough knowledge of your stats and insights, helping you to approach the task with much more confidence.
And finally, don’t forget to enjoy the journey! Hopefully, it will be a good, challenging and rewarding experience. What’s more, you may learn something interesting about yourself in the process.
If you need further advice or have comments to add, please contact our Market Research & Insight Recruitment team.
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