LifestyleRuth Noble

Love Island: a new breed of professional training?

As I mourn the end of Love Island, the hottest show of the summer, I'm left wondering what I will do with all my new found spare time. However, far from being purely an exercise in mindless trash TV escapism, there are a few lessons us researchers could learn from the islanders….hear me out.

Love Island: a new breed of professional training?

Production trickery aside, what keeps us tuned in night after night are the cast themselves, and this year we have been treated to an absolute masterclass in Audience Engagement. The strongest members of the cast are those who have not only entertained but also forged an emotional connection with the audience, carving out a space in both our hearts and minds. Their interactions and often colourful use of the Love Island lexicon keep us gripped - you've gotta graft if you want to dip your carrot in the hummus, you know.

In research, debriefs can often be our one shot chance to engage with the wider stakeholder team, land our message and make an impression. While I'm not convinced the industry is ready for us to start spitting bars anytime soon, there is definitely scope for each of us to consider and plan our delivery better.

Metaphor can help us breathe life into insight: a powerful medicine to simplify and humanise abstract concepts or mechanisms, leaving the audience with stories that resonate with the heart as well as mind. As simple as it sounds, preparation really is the key to great delivery. Pace, tone and energy levels all need to be considered, as does the level of detail provided: like a good production edit, too much and the audience are tuning out, too little and there's not enough to keep us hungry for more. Love Island has reminded us that when meeting people, we're hardwired to judge and label quickly. After this much more effort is required to change, so make sure those first impressions count (Monty, Chris I'm sorry, I take it all back…)

Another reason LI's popularity has soared where others have fallen is the role of the audience at home: we are encouraged, indeed expected to become active participants, not merely passive observers. The show, like others, used its official channels to encourage frequent interaction from its audience, but it's the organic exchanges outside of this that have really pushed LI to new heights of popularity - my phone will barely stop beeping with LI group chat.


(That's a muggy snake FYI)

So often in debriefs audiences play a passive role, even with a invitation to 'chip in as we move through', so many can remain silent; ask any teacher, you never learn as much from hearing as you do from doing. For a recent segmentation project our audience were tasked with unpacking the belongings of each of the segments one by one. Delighted by a tactile task which took focus away from the presentation and put them in the driving seat, and excited by the anticipation of what they would find, the exercise allowed the segments to come alive in their imaginations.

In order not to creep towards a slow death by powerpoint/voiceover combo, we must be outward looking: drawing ideas and inspiration from other sources, be brave and take risks. Designing tasks, getting an audience physically mobile and utilising the senses can all help create a more rounded, enjoyable and memorable experience to help our insights live on.

Finally, LI has reminded me of what a powerful tool observation can be. The simple act of sitting back and watching can reveal powerful human truths and (budgets considered) is certainly something I'll be keeping in mind when designing research moving forwards.

But for now, I'm off to claim a whole load of overtime for all the professional development I've been doing lately.