How online qualitative research can stop death by PowerPoint

Tom Woodnutt

Tom Woodnutt

Feeling Mutual

Tom Woodnutt is Founder of Feeling Mutual, the agile online and mobile qualitative research specialists. He helps clients and agencies run global studies and offers training in the space. Tom has been a Digital Skills trainer for the Association of Qualitative Researchers (AQR) and is a regular speaker at industry conferences, including the MRS, MRMW and IleX.

No doubt at some point in your career you have either killed or been killed by power-point. There’s nothing quite as fatal to attention spans as a text-heavy, image-light debrief. I believe that online qualitative methods put researchers in a much stronger position to make presentations that engage rather than enrage, simply because of the richness of the content that they allow researchers to gather.

Too much research gets presented to clients in decks of charts that would struggle to fit on double-decker buses. They are often over laden with wooden, paraphrased consumer quotes and overflowing with flow diagrams and dense text. While a high level of detail is often important, in the fast moving world of modern business clients tend to have minutes rather than hours spare for research debriefs. This means researchers need to embrace more dynamic multi-media methods of reporting in order to tell their stories in more compelling ways.

A well edited piece of video can convey complex ideas in an instant. It has been well documented that video not only helps researchers tell more emotionally resonant stories (Sherry and Schouten 2002), but that it also gives clients better knowledge of the experience of something (Belk 1998) and that ‘video…somehow appears to be more real than mere words about the same phenomenon’ (Belk and Kozinets 2005).

Now that video enabled digital cameras, webcams and mobile phones are so accessible and simple to use, it is easier than ever for people to film themselves and provide auto-ethnographic accounts and diaries of their lives, feelings and attitudes. One of the most efficient ways to manage this is through online qualitative software which lets you set tasks, handle multiple types of video and organise it by participant.

There are few research debriefs that couldn’t be enhanced with an accompanying video. I believe the more researchers embrace multi-media research through online qual, the more impactful (and less fatal) their conversations with clients will be.


1 – Sherry, J. F. and Schouten, J.W. (2002), “A role for petry in consumer research”, Journal of consumer research, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 218-34

2 – Belk, R.W. (1998) “Multimedia consumer research”, in Stern, B, (Ed.,) Representations in Consumer Research Routledge, London PP. 308-38

3 – Belk R. W. and Kozinets, R.V. (2005) “Videography in Marketing and Consumer Research”, Qualitative Market Research: an International Journal Vol 8 Issue 2

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