The Association for Qualitative Research
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Besting debrief-writing fears

There is more than one way to skin a cat, or in this case, to craft a debrief story with greater imagination and skill. AQR's Communicating Your Story set out alternatives.

Since beginning my career in insight just a year ago, debrief-writing has been one of my favourite, but equally frustrating, parts of the project process. It’s the point where we need to funnel all the rich detail of our analysis into something succinct and useful; a story for our clients to latch onto, empathise with, and feel called to action on. It was this magical process, storytelling, which AQR’s Communicating Your Story course aimed to transform.

After a quick ice-breaker which started to get us thinking about story, theme and overarching message over plot and narrative detail, we were split into two groups and had a short analysis session based on a research pre-task. In my group, we had to discuss Hello Fresh, and how it might continue to expand and thrive in an increasingly competitive meal kit market.

Then we re-grouped for a session on storytelling models and typologies. The aim of this session was to inspire us to think uniquely and creatively about how to craft a debrief story, to think about how the insights might be flexed and shaped to become truly engaging. This was so helpful because it freed us from the assumption that every insight debrief must be structured in the same way, despite the outcome varying significantly from project to project.

Equipped with an understanding of various storytelling models, we tried our hand at turning our group analysis into an engaging story, before presenting back to the whole group. In a short space of time, we’d gone from analysis to debrief and completely changed our thinking throughout, prioritising engaging storytelling over extraneous detail.

Post-lunch brought a real change in the day’s tone and content. We had three hours of performance training with a communication expert which, though thoroughly emotionally draining, proved vital in developing confidence for presenting stories in work and life. By the end of the course I was exhausted, but the day had successfully shifted my mindset, freeing me from my known storytelling mode, and inspiring me to try something new.

 

Harriet Wells
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