Top 5 take-outs from the Text Summit

In his latest blog, Anthony Shephard-Williams (director) shares his top 5 take-outs from the recent Text Summit Conference. 

This week I attended the first Text Summit at The Vinegar Yard in London (powered by text analysis software provider Relative Insight), which brought together the best minds in analytics, insights and research with a view to inspiring people to harness the power of text data, and envision the beauty of qualitative research.

It was a great day and so good to be back at an in-person conference.  The venue was lovely, there were lots of biscuits and food choices, but most importantly some really great and inspiring sessions. I definitely came away with lots of new opinions and ideas.

I want to share my top 5 key take-outs from the day (in no particular order):

  • There is so much more researchers can do with linguistics (the scientific study of human language). We study open ended comments from surveys, online communities, focus groups, IDIs and many other sources day in, day out. There is so much variation in language here in the UK alone (I live in Manchester but can be in Liverpool City Centre in 40 minutes and the difference in how the ‘mancs’ and ‘scousers’ speak is quite something). The language people use and how this can impact their culture, characteristics, preferences and “needs and wants” should be considered more. If you then also start to think about how companies and brands communicate with consumers, it is essential to consider whether you are using the right tone and the right language with those differences in mind.


  • Researchers can take note and learn from hostage negotiators. You’re probably wondering how the two are even remotely related? Well, the keynote speaker of the day was Suzanne Williams, who as well as being a brilliant presenter, was also an experienced and internationally renowned hostage negotiator. Her talk was all about how she uses language and communication in her role. There were a few things that really stood out to me that myself and other researchers could bear in mind:


  • Don’t worry about silence. In focus groups or depth interviews sometimes when you ask a question, the room can go quiet and whilst we may wait a while for a response, that ingrained British-ness and a need to fill silences in many of us kicks in. In future I will get to the point where I think the silence needs to end and then count to 10 in my head, just to give people a little bit more time to think properly.


  • The next learning was to ‘hold that poker face’. Sometimes when researchers are with respondents, we are often privy to more information than we need to let on. Respondents can ask us difficult questions that we shouldn’t really answer, so hold firm researchers and keep that poker face.


  • Finally, using repetition does lodge in people’s minds. Great reminder when thinking about research reports, debriefs and presentations and ensuring we are effectively communicating our main points.


  • Don’t just visualise for the sake of it. As researchers we use a lot of visualisation tools to make our data or text look attractive. But is a visualisation always really necessary? The three tips shared at the conference are 1) Highlight what matters, 2) Tell a story and 3) Ensure your visualisation drives action.


  • I learnt a new consumer term (to go alongside greenwashing and sportswashing), which is very apt given we’ve just had Pride month: Rainbow Washing. Urban Dictionary, defines this as “The act of using or adding rainbow colours and/or imagery to advertising, apparel, accessories, landmarks… in order to indicate progressive support for LGBTQ equality (and earn consumer credibility)—but with a minimum of effort or pragmatic result.” Sure, we can all think of some organisations who this term may apply to?! #DontBeARainbowWasher.


  • A new quote which also came from the hostage negotiator “Change what you can control and influence what you can’t.” This is relevant for so many of Mustard’s clients / projects and is definitely a quote I’ll be putting in a presentation or report to assist in telling the story!   


If you have any questions regarding qualitative research or text analysis, we’d love to hear from you, so feel free to get in touch with me –