AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Oct/12

26

Sheila Robinson Kohn on Igniting the Morning!

I’m Sheila Robinson Kohn from Greece Central School District and the University of Rochester, both in Rochester, NY. I’m here in Minneapolis at AEA2012 and while most of my mornings are ignited with oatmeal and coffee, THIS morning I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at my first Ignite session.

Chris Lysy, our session chair, set the mood by asking the audience to smile. Ignite sessions are, after all, both fun AND informative, and with 11 presenters, there were many of us who needed to begin by relaxing a bit! He also asked how many had seen an Ignite event; about one fourth of the 100+ attendees raised their hands.

Lessons learned:

  1. You can learn a lot in 5 minutes! Of course, I wished I had more time to process some of the information, but can take comfort in knowing I can access presentations at my leisure via the AEA elibrary and Ignite website.
  2. Our presenters practiced! Each presentation went off without a hitch, and even one momentary technical glitch didn’t rattle the presenter at all. Slides generally adhered to principles good slide design with limited text and powerful images that enhanced, rather than distracted from the message. Presenters limited “chart junk” and their graphics conveyed messages that could be understood within in the 15 second time frame. Many used humor to convey their messages.

Hot tip:

  • Attend an Ignite session at AEA12 or plan to at AEA 13!

Hotter tip:

  • Propose an Ignite presentation for AEA13! Spend considerable time developing your slides and script, and practice! It’s easy to underestimate just how much preparation is necessary for what eventually results in a high quality five-minute presentation. In fact, one of the greatest challenges beyond slide design is creating the script. I had a lot of content to share, but also wanted the audience to understand the message, so there was a delicate balance to achieve between saying too much and saying just enough. My first draft had me talking like an auctioneer trying to adhere to the 15 seconds per slide rule. There is a fine art to being concise, and one we must learn whether we’re charged with writing evaluation reports, grant proposals, tweets, or Ignite presentations!

Rad Resources:

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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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