- Write up your results as soon as possible after conducting research. No matter how good your notes or recordings, you had "ah-ha" moments that you won't recall later.
- Write your results in an effective way. Make the important points resonate. Don't bog down your report in useless details. When writing up one-on-one interviews, think of it as writing personas. Think of it as telling a story.
- If you archive your results in a PowerPoint presentation, make use of the Notes feature to fill in all the information that you impart verbally. Think of the deck as an artifact that will be read on its own.
When I started working at one place, I learned that my manager had done a round-table discussion with customers the year before. I asked if I could read her results and she said that she hadn't written anything because she recorded the session. I listened to the recording, but the way the mike was placed I could only make out what she was saying: the customers were largely inaudible. It was clear that I was the first person (including her) who had bothered to wade through the three hour recording.
This recording-in-place-of-report seems to be a common problem. Recordings are supplemental to reports, not a replacement for them. Whether audio or video, recordings can be very useful when snippets are excerpted and presented. They are also hugely useful for writing reports. But in almost every case that's the end of their usefulness.
I have frequently found that the only report of a research study is a PowerPoint presentation, with lots of cute photos, lots of headings, and virtually no results.
At the other end of the scale are the faux scientists who write hundred page reports filled with large pie charts, with numbers reported to four decimal places (NO decimal places, please!), and a complete lack of understanding of how to report results of research where the sample is not representative of the population.
Even the most dismal interview can be useful if the results are well-presented. This isn't about window-dressing. It's about ferreting out what's important, and as with most things, it requires hard work to be successful.