Empathy mapping

Empathy mapping

What is it?

Empathy mapping is a visual tool commonly utilized in fields such as service design, UX (User Experience), and branding. It serves as a means to capture the thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and needs of individuals or groups. This concept is often credited to Dave Gray, who played a significant role in popularizing it.

The empathy map consists of four distinct quadrants, each dedicated to a different aspect of an individual or group's experience: "think," "feel," "say," and "do." In the "think" quadrant, one can explore their thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. The "feel" quadrant delves into their emotions, attitudes, and reactions. Meanwhile, the "say" quadrant focuses on their expressed thoughts and words, and the "do" quadrant examines their observable behaviors and actions.

While not commonly associated with the presentation development process, empathy mapping can be a transformative tool for creating impactful content. By visually organizing and synthesizing information related to perspectives, motivations, and experiences, it enables teams to develop a deeper understanding and empathy toward their target audience. This, in turn, informs the development and design process, facilitating the creation of tailored content, storytelling, and design choices for presentations that effectively engage and resonate with the audience's needs.

      When to use it

      When you need to go beyond surface-level data and uncover insights that can shape content in a more human-centered way.

      Remember to

      1. Approach it as a guide rather than a rigid template. Customize categories to suit your specific audience and objectives.
      2. Don't get too caught up in the specifics of where each piece of information belongs on the empathy map—focus on connecting with the the target audience.




      Define the purpose of empathy mapping

      Review the goals and desired outcomes of the presentation and think about the actions or responses you hope to inspire from your audience. For example, if you're developing internal training presentations for a large company, the goals may include enhancing employee knowledge, improving skills, fostering teamwork, or driving behavior change. The purpose of empathy mapping in this scenario would be to gain deep insights into the needs, perspectives, and experiences of the employees who will be attending the training.


      Define the target audience

      Identify the specific audience for your presentation, considering their diverse roles, backgrounds, and learning preferences. In the case of internal training, this may include employees from different departments, levels, or job functions. Consider the diversity of roles, backgrounds, and characteristics within your audience. Aim to create a manageable number of personas that adequately represent the key segments of your audience. This could typically range from two to three personas, but adjust based on the complexity and diversity of your target audience. 


      Get materials together

      You'll need a whiteboard or large sheet of paper to recreate the empathy map(s). You'll also need sticky notes, markers, and highlighters.


      Gather relevant research

      To create a solid foundation for your empathy map, you need to gather relevant research that provides insights into your target audience. Here are two common approaches:

      1. Qualitative research: Gather all the qualitative research you have conducted, such as interview transcripts, notes, audio recordings, or any other relevant documentation. Organize them in a way that allows easy access and reference during the empathy mapping activity.

      2. Internet research and secondary sources: Alternatively, you can leverage online sources such as articles, reports, forums, and social media platforms as a valuable resource. Explore user-generated content, discussions, comments, and reviews to gain additional insights into your audience's preferences, challenges, and behaviors. Internet research provides a broader context and can supplement or serve as a substitute for qualitative research


      Create the empathy map(s)

      For each persona, construct an empathy map by dividing a sheet of paper or whiteboard into four quadrants: "Says," "Thinks," "Feels," and "Does." In each quadrant, capture the insights, thoughts, emotions, and actions of the persona based on the gathered research. Use words and sketches or any other visual elements to represent these aspects.


      Analyze and identify patterns

      Step back and analyze the empathy maps for each persona. Look for commonalities, patterns, and recurring themes across the personas. Identify shared needs, pain points, motivations, and opportunities for improvement.


      Translate insights

      Based on the patterns and insights derived from the empathy maps, identify responses that align with the goals and desired outcomes of your presentation. Determine how you can address the needs, pain points, and motivations of your audience. Use the empathy maps as a guide to develop content, activities, or strategies that resonate with the personas and inspire the desired reactions or behaviors.