Have you ever had an annual report land on your desk or doorstep? An unwieldy amount of pages. Way too much to digest. We have all been there. You put it to the side thinking that you will read the lovely looking and glossy report when you get a chance. Or maybe even leave it in the loo for those quiet moments.

Are you one of the perpetrators of these affronts to the environment? Do you author that annual printed bulging booklet? Do you print hundreds of copies, thousands even? Then worse still, the number can be doubled if making them bi-lingual. Often, these reports are a legislative or corporate duty. The fact is that most of the people that receive the report you have slaved over will never, ever get past the first few pages. If you are lucky some might flick through and look at the pretty pictures and graphs that you have included.

Over the years my team have taken complex annual reports, dissertations, presentations, etc and condensed them into digestible, easy to understand short videos. These films get your information across visually, quickly, environmentally and surprisingly cost effectively. They can also be easily adapted into multiple languages and tailored to suit a target audience quicker and easier than print.

Think of your audience first.

You must know your audience. Analyse their demographic, their ability, the language they are likely to use. We have seen all too often a local authority or housing association communicate to the users of its services in a tone and language that immediately disengages their intended audience. This may be a standard practice where a sense of “us and them” needs to be maintained. But times have changed. Openness, transparency and clear communications are all expected these days.

Simplify

The longer and more complex a subject, the more you will need to simplify the content. This means you must keep on breaking down the information into smaller and smaller chunks. It’s how engineers look at things. Break things down into bite sized parts. On the whole it may be complicated, but smaller chunks of data, or messages are easy to digest. If you start with complex material, you will lose your audience.

You might have to remind people of topics they’re already aware of. So, building in small nuggets of info can make understanding easier and therefore more likely to sink in.

Use the tools out there. The Flesch Reading Score is a brilliant tool that will help you keep reports understandable. Some organisations ask for reports that are consistently above a scoring of 80. If you have a WordPress website then the Yoast Plugin has a phenomenal Flesch tool built in.

Repeat

Just like the news at 10pm, or any other time for that matter. The reporter tells you at the start what the bulletin will contain. They then tell you the news that they promised, and finally the reporter summarises what they told you. Repetition enables people to remember. You need to repeat in the right way though. Every time you repeat you need to have the focus of the learners in mind.

Writing content on a slide and then reading it out directly makes learning harder. The two messages in tandem make focusing harder. Instead, show a relevant graphic and verbalise it in a different, or animated way. Printed material cannot show a video, or play audio. But an interactive PDF can.

Tell stories that connect and join

Creating stories that have a strong narrative and link between elements enable our brain to retain a vaster amount of information. The journey, the path of the story helps with cognitive retention. If the analogies in our story are familiar to us then the information is even easier to retain. So try and find a way to join the message you want to convey with familiar and simple verbal, and pictorial imagery. Metaphors work!

The best way to connect is to bring emotion into play. If we can stir people’s emotions then they will remember, connect and add more value to what we are trying to convey. More so if a powerful emotion has been stirred.

Space

Posing questions, asking people to think and providing space for them to reflect, enables an audience to embed and retain key messages. In a written report this might mean an exercise, a blank page, a doodle area, a questionnaire. In a film you might ask your audience to pause and turn to a colleague for a discussion, or even pause and think about what has just been relayed. There are many tools online that can bring reports to life. Games, quizzes, audio, even virtual reality (VR). We are in the 21st century and the 100 page written report should be consigned to the recycling bin in favour of a PDF for the masochist who loves to use their own ink!

When Tantrwm are tasked with transforming a report into a film we always consider the above points. One thing is certain, films get watched more than the reports get read. Or more importantly, reports get trashed much quicker than videos are deleted from Youtube.  They also have the ability to convey emotions that a normal annual report just can’t. This is vital in order to connect with your audience.

So don’t forget:

  • Think of your audience first.
  • Simplify
  • Repeat
  • Tell stories that connect and join
  • Space

If you want to find out more, call Andrew or Chris on 01685 876700