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Draw Me In – Bringing Creativity into Report Writing

Posted on March 15, 2024 by brittany

No one, I repeat no one, wants to read a report on anything if all they can see is words page after page after page after page.

After a certain point of constant black words on a white screen, our eyes get tired; our minds start to wander to more intriguing topics like what we’re having for lunch; and important data from our respondents can be glazed over. [Or we have to reread the same paragraph five times to glean the information needed]. Why would we want to do that to our clients when they need our insights to make important decisions?

As analysts and report writers – or a qualitative researcher who does it all – we have the incite and capability to bring creativity to the final report we will present to our clients. Bringing creativity to the report also ensures they want to keep reading to get the needed insights.

Note: I’ll reference “slides” often here because RIVA’s standard reports are in a PowerPoint deck.

5 Ways to Use Creativity to Create Intrigue

  1. Color
    Probably the easiest way to add dimension and creativity to a report is through the use of color. From the first page to the end, you can add a bunch of non-distracting, but engaging color. At RIVA, we don’t have “one” particular look for every single report. We incorporate a variety of colors to help our clients glean important insights [by making key items stand out in certain colors] and changing the background colors of some slides.

    Some caveats about color:
    a. Avoid using red in a full sentence – you can use it to highlight a word or as an accent color, but because of its connotations as “negative” red can be misconstrued.
    b. It’s also best to avoid light colors on a light background [or dark colors on a dark background] – it’s hard to read.

  2. Bold/Highlight
    It goes without saying that this is important in every report, whether you’re trying to be creative or not. Bolding and highlighting key insights helps a reader track the most important insights. It also allows for a quick skim through when someone on your client’s side needs to revisit the report.

  3. Pictures/Icons
    Here’s where you can really shine with creativity – pictures and icons! They allow you to illustrate your point without needing to over burden your slides with words. [This goes back to the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.”] When it comes to your client, use of pictures and icons can also help people who are more visual process what you wrote better. [The added benefit is all of your slides don’t look the same!]

    PowerPoint also allows you to play with how the picture’s format appears on the slide, which adds an extra dimension of creativity.

  4. Change Format of the Slides
    While every slide should include a title – so your reader knows what the information on the slide is explaining – they don’t have to look the same. Change up your slides so that they don’t all have the same “Title/Words/Bullets” combo that is pretty typical in reports.

    Often, you can do this through the use of pictures (internet or client product), icons, speech bubbles, SmartArt, etc., but you can also just adjust how information appears on the slide: whether the title is on the top or on the side, using full sentences, bullets, or word charts, etc.

  5. [Often overlooked] Vary Sentence Structure
    Like when you’re reading a book, the most interesting, captivating writers know how to vary sentence structure to keep people reading. This is a particularly useful skill in report writing to keep your client from reading a boring report.

    Example of non-varied sentence structure:
    Respondents said they didn’t like the packaging of the product. Respondents said they couldn’t open it. Respondents said the plastic broke before opening the package fully. Respondents said it was an “ugly, unappealing” color. Respondents said they wanted something easy-to-open and convenient.

    Example of varied sentence structure, saying the same thing:
    The packaging proved challenging for respondents to open – many noting it tore before they could get it open fully. In addition, some found the color “ugly [and] unappealing.” Respondents need an easy-to-open, convenient package design to fit into their busy lives.

There are so many ways to elevate your report through tapping into your creativity – these are just five of them! When you need to make sure your client gleans the insights they need, why not make it interesting and fun to read?

Written by: Brittany Mohammed, Qualitative Training & Research Specialist at RIVA