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MN EA Week: Mary Anne Casey on Making Presentations Stick

Mary Anne Casey here. I’m a Minnesota-based consultant who helps people plan and evaluate programs.  I’ve also done some writing and teaching on qualitative methods, particularly focus groups.

Are you on the lookout for ways to make your presentations more memorable and meaningful?

Rad Resource: Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Made to Stick, is jam-packed with ideas that will make your presentations stand out. Want to read the first chapter for free? Download it at (Under the resource tab, with lots of other interesting materials.)

Hot Tip: The Heath brothers suggest bringing statistics to life by presenting them in ways that are more human. Here’s an example, taken from their book (p. 144-145):

“Steven Covey, in his book The 8th Habit, describes a poll of 23,000 employees drawn from a number of companies and industries. He reports the poll’s findings:

  • Only 37 percent said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why.
  • Only one in five was enthusiastic about their team’s and their organization’s goals.
  • Only one in five said they had a clear “line of sight” between their tasks and their team’s and organization’s goals.
  • Only 15 percent felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals.
  • Only 20 percent fully trusted the organization they worked for…”

“Then Covey superimposes a very human metaphor over the statistics. He says, ‘If, say, a soccer team had these same scores, only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs. Only 2 of 11 would care. Only 2 of the 11 would know what position they play and know exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but 2 players would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.’”

This soccer analogy humanizes the statistics and makes them more memorable. You can’t help but imagine the chaos on the field if only 4 of the 11 players know which way to go, and only two care. And it is easy to move that image from the soccer team to a work team. It is a great example of how to humanize statistics.

Twin Cities Hot Tip: For the best pho (Vietnamese soup) in town, head over to Ngon, at 799 University Ave W, St Paul, MN.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Minnesota Evaluation Association (MN EA) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the MNEA AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our MNEA members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


1 comment

  • scott bayley · March 16, 2012 at 12:34 am

    I would also recommend:

    Chip Health, 2007, ‘Crafting a Message that Sticks’, The McKinsey Quarterly.


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