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  • Under: Marketing & Communications Strategy

At CHIEF, we give ourselves room to think. In our discovery and insights work, we explore clients’ business and marketing strategies, competition and audiences, helping our team to solve bigger communications puzzles faster, and with better results

This work often involves vast amounts of information, making it difficult to organize and communicate our thoughts effectively. To help keep us focused in how we convey our insights, we rely on these 10 tips:

1.)  Essential = Insightful: What question(s) are you trying to answer, or point you’re hoping to make? Without laser focus on this, it’s easy to get sidetracked or lost: Write it down early, and make sure everything else is essential to supporting it.

2.)  Get Organized: Think back to English class, and use a standard outline, a diagram (like a mind map) and strong topic sentences to organize your thoughts and see what’s essential (and what isn’t).

3.)  Start with the Hook: Speaking of topic sentences, try to feature an arresting finding or fact at the beginning of each section.

4.)  Just Say It: Don’t try to sound smart in your writing—just write like you speak. You can even simulate a conversation to help you get ideas out more clearly and succinctly. 

5.)  The “So what?” Test: What does each fact, finding or chart mean for your larger point? To make sure every piece of information is part of a bigger story, ask “so what?” If you have a strong, clear answer, it passes; if not, you should add context, make it actionable or cut it.

6.)  Add Context: No fact or figure should exist without an accompanying datapoint that orients the reader. Context can come in a number of forms:

  • Baselines (e.g. Industry average, year-over-year)
  • “What not to do”
  • Real-world translations
  • Comparisons
  • Charts

7.)  Make it Actionable: In lieu of (or in addition to) context, you can add meaning to your data by explaining how it can be used. Demonstrating immediate, measurable impact makes your data undeniably important.

8.)  Cut It: The golden rule across this list—when in doubt, remove it.

9.)  Ask Creative Questions: Everyone gets stumped, so it’s important to have some questions on hand that “unstick” your thoughts:

  • What’s the one thing I would tell the client right now if he or she asked?
  • What does this information empower the reader to do right now?
  • Is there anything this information tells us not to do?

10.)  What’s the Future? Related to the questions above, it’s important to challenge yourself to think bigger than the task at hand. By imagining larger applications of the information in your report, you help readers understand why your report is worth their time.

Are there any insights tips you use that we’ve missed here? Let us know on social media

Read More in the Series:

Intro to Visual Thinking

Sketch It Out: Search Engine Optimization and Keyword Research