Posted by: bbannan | April 18, 2012

Creating Reports and Engaging Presentations – Jennifer

When I hear the word “report” or “presentation” I think of facts, data, stories, photos, videos and bulletin points that help me understand and remember the message the speaker is conveying.  In my job I’ve seen many presentations that served their purpose and held their audience’s attention.  I work for a government locality and one of my responsibilities is to videotape training seminars for county agencies.  I’ve recorded at least a dozen training seminars and the ones I remember stood out for a reason.

A few years ago I recorded an eight hour presentation on gang prevention for public safety employees, social workers and school officials and I remember almost every detail of it!  Yes, I know most people would be interested in listening to a topic on gang prevention, but if you think about it, eight hours is a long time for people to be listening to a bunch of talking heads. Let me tell you they found a way to keep everyone on the edge of their sits. They had videos with interviews of gang members and videos of gang initiations, PowerPoints with photos, graphs, bulletin points with facts and stats.  And they even had the author of, “This is for the Mara Salvatrucha: Inside the MS-13, America’s Most Violent Gang” by Samuel Logan.  The point is they know their target audience; they presented information that addressed the root of the problem and possible solutions that could be used to prevent youth from joining gangs.

I know Chapter 17 focuses on creating reports and presentations for products, but a lot of the techniques that I saw in the gang prevention seminar could be used in a user research presentation or any presentation for that matter.  Below is a list of Do’s on creating user research reports and presentations that I combined from various resources.

Report Do’s

Content: When organizing the findings of a product for a user research report, keep the “rule of three” in mind. Must Know…Should Know…Nice to Know. This will help you stay on topic and communicate all the important elements that stakeholders will need to consider before they continue to move forward with the development of a product.

Parts that should be included in your report are: executive summary, method(s) for data collection, problems/limitations of the study, user profile and conclusion.

Executive Summary: In a few sentences describe the participants, data collection method and results.

Method: Explain the type of method you use to collect data from the participants of your study.  (i.e. surveys, interviews, focus groups, contextual inquiry, usability testing)

Problems/Limitations: State the problems and limitations you had while collecting data from participates.  Being honest will help avoid a company from going in the wrong direction on developing a product.   

User Profile: Give a brief description of the participants and a few quotes from people who participated in the product study.  This will help humanize your report and justify your findings.

Conclusion: The conclusion should sum up the main points of the report; this will help the target audience remember key points.    

Six Data Points for User Research Documentation

Format: Based on your audience’s needs, choose an appropriate format for your report. It can either be a formal written report, e-mail, in-person presentation, web-based or video conference call.

Reporting Software Tools

Audience: Develop different aspects of the same reports for different members of the target audience.  This will help the target audience from feeling patronized or confused.  Personal note: While teaching a video production class for a group of K-12 teachers, I started using terminology that some the teachers were not familiar with and I got called on it. I had a women yell out, “Excuse me Miss, I don’t even know how to use my cell phone; what makes you think I know what a waveform is?” I felt so bad, after that I started incorporating meaningful learning to help explain basic video production skills.

Presentation Do’s

Themes: Using a black background and yellow font as your theme color for your PowerPoint presentation is not the best option! I’ve seen it, trust me it doesn’t work. Choose themes that make your notes and visual aids easy to read and understand. Oh, and another pointer…when you insert graphs and charts…make sure they are legible and clearly labeled.  You have people like me who have really poor vision.

12 tips for Creating Better PowerPoint Presentations

A/V Equipment: If possible, check to make sure any necessary equipment works in the room you are planning to present.  This will save you time from trying to fix problems that you could be spending on your presentation.

Speaker: Please do not read your NOTES! There is nothing worse than some reading their PowerPoint, instead put the presentation into your own words and talk to the audience.  A PowerPoint should serve as an outline and provide key words or facts you want your audience to know and remember.


Practice:  Rehearse and time out your presentation.  This will allow you to know if you have enough time to share your results, ideas and answer questions from your target audience.

Toast Masters

SMILE: This my personal tip on presenting.  I have a dance instructor that always yells at us if we’re not smiling while we’re dancing. After he imitates us (it’s funny) and he tells us an audience isn’t interested in watching a bunch of zombies dance around the stage (unless it’s a Michael Jackson’s Thriller video of course).   Anyways, the same thing goes when you’re talking to a group of people.  Smiling will help decrease your anxieties and make you more approachable when it comes to Q&A.


Q&A: Make sure you are listening to your audience’s questions and answer them to the best of your ability.  If you can’t answer their questions, make sure you follow up with the requested information.


Good and Poor Examples of Executive Summaries

12 Tips for Creating Better PowerPoint Presentations

18 Tips for Killer Presentations

Presenting in Front of the Audience Best Practices and Techniques

13 Tips on Zap your Butterflies when Speaking in Public

Toast Masters

Corporate Presentation Advice


Dube, S. (2009, September 1). Six Data Points for User Research Documentation. Retrieved from User Experince Blog:

Kuniavsky, M. (2003). Obersevering the User Experince: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research . San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

Young, S. H. (n.d.). 13 Tips to Zap your Butterflies whn Speaking in Public. Retrieved from Stepcase Lifehack:

Young, S. H. (n.d.). Stepcase Lifehack. Retrieved from





  1. Jennifer, Thank you for all of these tips. We should each certainly review the tips above when preparing for our final EDIT 752 presentations. Have you had personal experience with toastmasters? I have not, but have co-workers who have belonged in the past. They speak very highly of it as a tool for learning how to develop good presentations as well as overcoming fears of speaking in front of an audience. As you stated above, practice makes all the difference. I know I can tell usually tell if a person is “winging” it! -Beth

  2. I supremely liked this post. I have been to a few toastmasters meetings myself and have found them fantastic to learn about how important it is to present yourself as much as your presentation. As a designer, I believe you make an excellent point about making information easy to understand and follow for anyone to access the materials. The importance of this stems over not only to allow for a learner to access materials in a way that makes sense to them but also allows an individual to access materials in case they have a disability in accordance with federal laws. This stems into how we design at the most basic level by allowing all users to access material in an engaging way. This is the most important point as an educator, is how do we make the materials engaging for all learners. If a design is boring or not engaging then your learners will be uninterested no matter how great the content or subject matter may be.

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