Reports Blues: Why Your Co-Workers Don’t Pay Attention

Do you dread annual reports, too? Not so much the content of your report, but more so the challenge that comes with keeping co-workers engaged. There’s nothing more disheartening than people doing their own thing and talking amongst each other while someone else is in the middle of a relevant presentation.

While it’s ideal to be confident and comfortable in public speaking, not everyone is equipped for that kind of public scrutiny. But, just because you’re not a Martin Luther King, Jr. or Brené Brown in effective public speaking doesn’t mean you can’t be charismatic in presentation reports. We’ve compiled tools and tips to make your next report presentation irresistible; you’ll need to brace yourself with off-the-roof audience engagement!

1. You’re using too much text.

Report designs that work are meant to have more visuals, while texts on reports are for supplementing the visual data presented. So, use less texts; show more visuals.

Visuals instantly enhance information presented at hand. Human beings being visual creatures, it’s only logical to play into your audience’s instincts and strengths to keep their attention focused on the task at hand: the presentation of your report.

There is information written in texts or numbers that cannot be fully converted into visuals. However, in reports, conciseness is key. Here are other ways to be more succinct in report presentation:

  • Use keywords and bullet points to shorten content
  • Play around with universal symbols or signs to highlight a point
  • Use statistics to drive a point
  • Utilize flowcharts to convey processes

2. Your delivery is monotone – try storytelling.

When the London School of Business surveyed about retention, it revealed that when stories are used to pass on information, retention increases to 65%, compared to when it’s passed on with statistics, at a low 5%. Storytelling is an art and so is blog writing. Try your hands on a home decor blog to know how the flow of content should be.

Whatever you do, do not just read and describe what is already explicitly shown on your report! As a presenter, your primary responsibility is to be the middleman in helping your audience understand and interpret the data presented in the report in a valuable and meaningful way. There is nothing duller than sitting through a 20-minute presentation only for the content to be read back to the audience word for word; that could have been sent via email.

3. They cannot relate.

Throughout this article, we’ve highlighted that people process 1) visual data and 2) information in story mode quicker. There’s a third element to this: relatability. Content that tugs into their heartstrings are understood and remembered better.

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Now, this doesn’t mean a sappy story or comedic break within your report. Instead, incorporate relatable examples into an area of your report that might be more difficult to digest. For example, adding a lighthearted remark or acknowledging a recent event that transpired within the department is a good start. Making your audience feel that you empathize with even a tiny part of their day to day encourages them to pay more attention to what you have to say.

4. Too many pages, and too little visuals.

Reports, especially business reports, are notorious for compressing months’ worth of information within a few pages. Some companies even limit the number of pages you can have in a report in an effort to keep the overall presentation brief. And, rightfully so. Your co-workers’ attention span is limited. Unless you implement a “no phone policy” while presenting your report, they will find other things to keep them occupied if they find your presentation unengaging.

It’s a daunting fact, but reports consist of more than one visual element. So it’s crucial that you incorporate graphics, not only to keep your audience engaged but because it can transform a page’s worth of texts or numbers into a single graphic data. Most reports have at least a graph or table to present data trends and relationships, flow charts to convey processes or systems, and infographics to showcase those mentioned above with relevant statistics.

It might sound a lot, but that’s precisely why various design solutions are popping up all over: to make life easier by creating premade templates and customizable designs when needed. And, let’s be honest, it’s very much needed. From charts, diagrams, tables, roadmaps, reports, infographics, and even presentation decks, editable templates are relatively accessible. Are they user-friendly? That’s another story.

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Cloud-based design solutions like Venngage are both and more. Besides offering over 500+ templates and a user-friendly interface, you can also use specific templates for free. If you’d like to learn more, clicking here will direct you to another browser.

5. You’re not asking questions.

One of the more apparent reasons audiences don’t pay attention is that they do not understand what is being presented. Although, keeping quiet more likely means the same thing. So, the best way to ascertain that they’re paying attention and on the same page as you — literally and figuratively — is to stimulate a Q&A.

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Asking your audiences’ questions allows you to check for understanding respectfully. This process also signals your audience that you intend to keep asking questions throughout your report, which forces them to pay attention — if none of the above tips has worked.

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