If you’re a product manager, you probably spend a lot of time collecting and unpacking user feedback. Their words and your insights shape the product’s vision, strategy, and value proposition. Knowing how to share user feedback with your team's decision-makers is critical. And your role is important — research from McKinsey Global Insights suggests that organizations that use strategic consumer behavior insights are outperforming those that don’t by 85% in sales growth margins.
But communicating those insights to your team effectively requires a little finesse and storytelling ability. Let’s go over how to share user feedback with decision-makers in your organization so they’ll not only understand but also support your findings and recommendations. The end goal is action. Here’s how to make that happen.
Know your audience
When and how do you typically share user feedback with your team? Who will be in the room? Consider your audience. You can have mountains of data and a rock-solid case, but it may not be heard or acknowledged if you don’t know how to share user feedback with these specific people. You don’t have to be a psychology mastermind, but you do need to use your empathy and critical thinking skills for this.
There’s an art to clear communication. The better you understand your colleagues and how they think, the more effectively you’ll be able to refine your strategy to win them over. So how do you do this?
What will they want to hear?
Get to know your colleagues and pay attention to the way they think, share, and discuss information. How do they learn? What kinds of data are they responsive to and why? Some people need to hear anecdotes before they’re able to mentally put themselves in their users’ shoes. Others are less responsive to stories and want to get straight to the numbers.
It’s not that you should aim to capture only certain types of data in order to satisfy the preferences of your team —diversity in data helps build context and a complete picture— but that you should frame your findings in the way that most effectively delivers the message.
What will they want to know?
What types of questions do your decision-makers typically ask? Spend time thinking about this before preparing your presentation so you can gather the information early. Tailor your presentation to your audience and their expectations. Consider what they’ll want to know and what kind of supporting information they might request. Part of a PM’s job is understanding and anticipating user needs — and you can apply these skills to your leadership as well!
In order to be prepared for their questions, you’ll need to know what their hypotheses or assumptions are ahead of time. Ask questions to understand their expectations and how they expect them to be supported or rejected. You can’t always have an answer for everything, but you can try.
Tell a Story With Purpose
Now let’s talk about building your deck. Your presentation needs to tell a story tailored to your audience. How do you build a story that captures attention and agreement along the way?
You’ll need to set up your content so that it gradually leads the audience to your conclusion, one step at a time. To do that, you’ll need to keep it to just one major idea per slide. That will allow people to easily connect the data to the overall story and grasp the significance of each new piece of information added.
Start off by reiterating the starting hypothesis and tell them what you expected to find and how you planned to measure it. You can also recap important contextual details, like relevant feedback or KPIs from before your experiment started.
An Unshakeable Narrative
Build up background information along the way to show the logic each of your conclusions is based on. Include evidence for your claims if they aren’t inherently obvious — you want people to understand your thinking process. Be sure to use clear, simple language throughout your presentation. These tips will help you build a solid case so that the focus stays on your results and next steps; then, you won’t have to waste any time or attention debating or defending poorly-presented data.
Keep it Simple
You’ve worked hard to collect and analyze your user feedback. It’s natural to want to share all that hard work. But here’s the thing: your goal is to give them actionable information, not all the information. Any bit of data you include should be useful and contribute to your conclusion.
If you have extra details you want to share, include them in an appendix so they’re accessible when questions come up, but don’t let them distract from your main points.
Make it Actionable
In order for your conclusions to be useful, they need to be applicable to your next steps. At the end of your presentation, be sure to sum up what you’ve learned from your research. Then discuss possible scenarios for what’s to be done based on your findings. If you’re able to provide projections of what you expect to happen after implementing your potential next steps, even better.
Data Presentation Tips
Here are some simple steps for effective data presentation. Making it easy to read and understand will allow your audience to focus on your main points, rather than being distracted or confused.
If you need help interpreting your user feedback or spotting trends, this post on interacting with your data is a good place to start.
- Include titles and axis labels on your charts. Don’t forget your units! Label series when applicable.
- Name chart titles after your conclusion or main observation, so your colleagues can spot the key message quickly.
- Don’t make your audience do all the thinking on their own — present one step or idea per slide and present information in stages so they can see how you reached your conclusion.
- Choose your charts with care — understand which kind of chart will best make your point. Exclude irrelevant data.
- Combine quantitative and qualitative data when possible. NPS or satisfaction scores are great KPIs, but they’re much more useful when combined with supporting quotes and context.
- It’s better to be informative than pretty (but even better to be both!). Your data visualizations should be easy to read and interpret.
- When possible, use bar charts instead of column charts, because horizontal labels are much easier to read.
- Highlight and label points of interest to make them stand out.
- Be careful with color! Don’t use random colors to spice things up unless they are necessary or have meaning, e.g., comparing popular brands using their signature colors. Otherwise, people could be distracted by trying to look for hidden meaning when there isn’t any.
- Match color series across charts so people can easily follow along. Changing the color of a specific data set halfway through may lead to confusion.
- Avoid using 3D charts unless you have a particularly compelling reason to do so — they’re difficult to read accurately and add no value to the presentation.
- Make your numbers easy to read at a glance. $546900 is much more difficult to read than $546,900.
- Round your numbers when appropriate — don’t be overly precise unless you have to be. 70% is easier to remember and process than 69.74%.
- Choose appropriate axis scales and start points that won’t misrepresent or obfuscate the data.
- Add individual data labels for important numbers that are difficult to read.
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