From carrying out project evaluations, to generating campaign evidence, or gathering information for strategic reviews, charities are often engaged in some form of applied research.
Research findings can be a powerful tool to tell a story, inform policy or influence positive social change. However, when not communicated effectively, it can feel like you’re shouting into the wind and no one can hear.
Want to avoid your reports gathering dust on the bookshelf? Here are five tips from DSC for sharing your research findings impactfully.
1. Simplify your language
It’s easy to fall into the habit of writing in academic language, but this may serve to alienate some readers. Communicate your research findings clearly by using plain English and avoiding complex terminology and jargon. Remember – your findings may be complex but that doesn’t mean your language has to be!
When deciding what style of ‘voice’ to adopt, it’s important to consider who your audience are and their level of expertise. For instance, charity sector terms and acronyms may be familiar to your colleagues but are likely confuse a broader audience.
Here at DSC, we try to ensure that the language we use in all of our research outputs is accessible to everyone, whether our readers are experts in their fields or completely new to the topic at hand.
2. Summarise your findings
Executive summaries are a great way to grab the attention of – and quickly inform – busy chief execs and journalists, who often lack the time to read lengthy reports.
When drafting your executive summary, focus on the ‘big picture’ findings. Cut, cut and cut again until only the essential information remains. A good rule of thumb is to keep it within one or two pages in length. And remember tip one… make sure the language is accessible to non-experts.
A successful executive summary should make the reader feel confident that they could go away and share some findings with others after reading.
3. Create ‘shareable’ content
When it comes to accessing information in 2023, audiences are truly spoilt for choice. Avid readers may love the idea of sitting down with a cuppa and annotating a pdf, while multitaskers might prefer to tune into a podcast while clearing their inbox.
It’s also important to keep in mind that people have different appetites for information – some will seek out in-depth analysis while others prefer quick insights. So ideally, your content should be pitched at these different levels.
Experiment with a mix of visual, audio, and written content to reach the widest possible audience. DSC’s researchers regularly create blog articles, research briefs, interactive dashboards, videos and podcasts to accompany our reports.
4. Get social
Social media is a powerful tool to connect with a wide audience. Don’t forget to utilise your charity’s digital presence to share your research findings. Take advantage of existing social media trends, charity sector campaigns and hashtags and national days of observance to publicise new research for maximum impact.
Social media can be a great way to reshare and recycle your research, prolonging it’s lifespan beyond its original publication. For example, World Mental Health Day may be the perfect time to dust off and reshare a previous report on the topic.
Don’t forget top tip number 3 – producing a range of content in different formats will help keep your social media feed feeling fresh. Tailor content to different platforms for maximum impact. A striking infographic may capture the attention of people aimlessly scrolling on X, while a video featuring the report authors can add a personal touch on LinkedIn.
5. Expand your network
Attending conferences and events can be a fantastic way to share your findings with other experts in your field. No upcoming conferences in the calendar? Why not seize the opportunity to host your own online event such as a report launch or a live Q&A session.
DSC regularly hosts free insight talks, and research launches via Zoom. Online events can be a really effective way to connect with a large audience, while avoiding the prohibitive costs of travel and room hire.
Don’t be shy – if you’ve recently read an interesting piece of research, reaching out to its authors for an informal chat can often lead to exciting opportunities for future collaboration.
Need some more inspiration for your research content? Check out DSC’s latest research outputs or get in touch with [email protected] to find out more about how DSC’s research could help you to help others.