How did we get to a place where the “sizzle” is more important than the “steak”? With so much space to fill and so few opportunities to grab our attention, a reliance on sensational messaging was inevitable. From news articles based on “leaks” or concocted scandals, to research reports based on faulty logic or questionable poll results, the end result is the same: With a few consistently repeated sound-bites, the narrative has taken root.

Way back in the sixties, Daniel Boorstin wrote a book about “pseudo-events”. He describes how the constant reporting of an event becomes more important or “real” than the event itself. If we hear something over and over again, the initial accuracy is irrelevant. The current presidential election is a great example of this: sloppy, often incorrect reporting using provocative language has turned pseudo-events into national news.

As a researcher, I’m constantly analyzing what I am seeing and hearing during a project; I know that “garbage in equals garbage out”. The craft of research, having the ability to properly execute a study and to identify real insight, is critically important. But in today’s post-modern world, a captivating deliverable trumps all else. We don’t have the luxury of time to capture our audience’s attention: how we deliver our work is as important, and often more important, than the content itself.

How do you grab attention for the quality of your work without resorting to using “bells and whistles”? Leave your comments below.