On the Wild Side of  
Market Research

A monthly newsletter focused on helping marketers and market researchers improve their research projects
This month, I discuss why using paper to take notes is often better than typing on a computer, especially when conducting research interviews. Read on to discover 5 reasons why handwritten is better. 
And don't forget to scroll down to see the wildlife photo of the month.

Happy reading,
Carol Monaco
Founder and Principal
MarketWise Insights, Inc.
Rock, Paper, Scissors, Laptop: When Paper Beats the Computer 

My handwriting is so bad that occasionally even I can't read it at first (I wanted 'swamp' at the grocery store?? Is that soap? Soup? Something else entirely?).

But I always figure it out, and so for certain things, I still prefer writing notes on paper instead of on the computer. For example, I always seem to go back to handwriting my to-do lists no matter how many productivity apps I try.
I started to reflect on why paper is sometimes better than a laptop while reading an article in the Sunday Denver Post Business section the other day; the article was about why notebooks are important.

In my technology-focused brain--I first thought the article referred to technology notebooks/laptops, and I thought 'well, yes, they are important' (and wondered if the article was a case of obvious journalism---'People prefer chocolate over vegetables!' 'Fire in fireplace!'--yes that was an actual article) and then was surprised to realize that no, the article was referring to actual paper notebooks. You know, those spiral bound things that we used in high school to pass notes in class and doodle on--I mean take notes on what the teacher was saying.
According to the article (reprinted from INC magazine), some companies are encouraging employees to take notes on paper instead of using their laptops or tablets, believing that this improves performance.
'How archaic!' you might think. But I agree on the virtues of handwriting things; for example, I usually take handwritten notes when conducting a research interview.

I know there's a debate raging about cursive vs. print, and I don't care how you take notes (you can use some bizarre shorthand that only makes sense to you and avid Star Trek fans, just as long as you can read it later), but before you think I'm advocating going back to ink wells or stone tablets, let me tell you why I prefer using paper instead of a laptop while interviewing:
  1. Eliminating distractions. The sound of a computer typing in the background can be distracting to your phone conversation. We've all had the experience of talking to a friend on the phone when they are really doing something else, such as checking email, and the tap, tap, tap, can be very distracting.
  2. Keeping the interviewee focused. Typing can encourage the participant to type on his or her computer-to be checking email, etc., when you want his or her full attention on the interview. If you're typing, why shouldn't the interviewee be typing?
  3. Making the interviewee feel valued. Typing can make you, the interviewer, sound as if you aren't completely paying attention and hanging on every word the interviewee says. Have you ever been on a con-call while someone who can't figure out the mute button is typing away on his or her computer? Makes you feel ignored or as if the subject of the call isn't important, doesn't it?
  4. Increasing your retention. Research has shown that you remember things better when you handwrite them. There is a lot said in a great interview and looking back at handwritten notes can help you remember specifically what the interviewee intended.
  5. Providing additional insights. The act of typing up notes later gives you another opportunity to organize your thoughts and interpret the meaning of the interviewee's comments. This process often provides additional insights from your conversation making for an improved research result.
So the next time you conduct an interview, try using paper if you always use your computer. Typing certainly has its place, and believe me, you wouldn't be happy if this newsletter were handwritten, but use of an old-fashioned pen and paper can be advantageous in certain situations, such as when conducting an interview.
What about you? Do you prefer handwritten or typing during an interview?
Have you ever forgotten to push the mute button on a con-call?
Are you an avid Star Trek geek (I mean fan, of course!)?

Send me an email to let me know.

Wild Image of the Month
Image by Carol Monaco,  copyright 2016
This photograph was taken in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Africa. I like how they all lined up nicely for the photograph (except for the one on the far left, who clearly didn't hear my call to look this way--isn't that always the way in a family photo? Someone is not paying attention or has his or her eyes closed!). They were probably curious as to that strange landrover full of weird looking animals with long lens in front of their faces. 

The one in the front looks as if she might be pregnant. Either that or it's a male with a beer belly.

Zebras live in herds, with one male, several females and their young. There are three species of zebras--the plains zebra, the Grevy's zebra and the mountain zebra.

Did you know that zebras' patterns are all unique? Scientists theorize that's how they tell each other apart.

About MarketWise Insights, Inc.
 Since 1999, I've completed over 100 research projects to help companies find and size  the right markets for their products and services. I specialize in two areas:
  • Market sizing, such as creating Excel models for revenue forecasting and market share studies 
  • Qualitative research, specifically in-depth interviews, data analysis and report writing

 You can reach me at 303-659-8061 or at cmonaco@marketwiseinsights.com. 

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