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

TAG | Potent Presentations

Greetings! We are Donna Podems, Amiee White (AEA board members), and Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator with some tips and advice for creating a killer conference poster.

We served as judges of the Evaluation 2015 Potent Presentations (p2i) Poster Competition and used p2i criteria to identify the top two posters that came closest to meeting all and would be named “Best in Show.”

Cool Trick: Use p2i design principles for conference posters.

Posters should be:

  • Readable from at least six feet away with fonts no smaller than 24pt for body text, 48pt or larger for headings, and 64pt font or larger for titles.
  • Printed on one large sheet (3’8” x 3’8”), and not on multiple smaller pieces of paper.
  • Understandable, focusing on “big picture” points with a minimum of jargon, acronyms, abbreviations, etc.
  • Free from electricity. The poster session cannot accommodate computers.
  • Logically organized into sections with text and graphics that flow well.
  • To the point with elements that highlight the work in a way that is understandable in a very short time.
  • Colorful with well-chosen graphics and intentional use of color to emphasize key points.
  • Visually engaging, and attractive to passers-by with large, clear graphs, photos, diagrams, color blocks, or other graphics/images related to the work.
  • Conversational in nature, as opposed to using language suited for a journal article.
  • Succinct with text and titles that can be read at a glance. URLs and references should be place on a supplementary handout. 

Cool Trick: Learn what not to do. We saw many fabulous posters and it was quite difficult to choose this year’s winners. What made it especially challenging was that many included high quality research and interesting studies. Many met some, but not all of the p2i criteria. Here are some of the “deal breakers” we saw:

  • 3D graphs and color not used well or intentionally on graphs
  • tiny fonts that were difficult to read from barely one foot away
  • too much clutter! We couldn’t understand the research or the story the exhibitor was trying to tell with so many details shared
  • poor contrast between font and background colors
  • shocking fluorescent color that hurt our eyes
  • clip art (as opposed to higher quality images or icons)
  • all text and no graphics, images, or visual cues

Lessons Learned: We were already familiar with p2i design principles but learned even more from observing posters through a different lens in our work as judges. We realize that posters present unique challenges and recognize the intense design work that exhibitors put into them.

Congratulations to all Evaluation 2015 poster presenters!

Rad Resource: The Potent Presentations (p2i) website at p2i.eval.org has excellent resources on poster design!

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Hi, my name is Cheryl Keeton. Throughout my career, I’ve been responsible for program evaluation, review, and success. Most recently I transitioned to independent consulting to focus my energy and passion to the field of evaluation. I want to share my experience as one way to make the transition.

Lessons Learned: Three years before I decided to become an independent evaluator, I began exploring evaluation from the 50,000 foot view. I attended my first AEA Conference to learn about the many ways evaluation is used outside of my field. I wanted to know who is doing evaluation, how are the various approaches different from the way I do things, and how can I use the sessions to help self-evaluate my strengths and weaknesses. The sessions were fascinating and the community of AEA members was very friendly and helpful. I made new friends and began to establish a network of support.

Next I attended an AEA Summer Institute for in-depth learning and practice. I knew I had a firm foundation but the summer study program allowed me to build and grow, extending my understanding, and learning techniques that were new to me.

Since those initial steps, I reached out to resources around me to help establish my independent consulting. Gail Barrington gave me the best advice for how to begin when I met her at an AEA conference “do it now while you are still working.” Before making the transition, I read Dr. Barrington’s book– Consulting Start-Up and Management: A Guide for Evaluators and Applied Researchers. I got advice from the career center at the local community college and created a web presence. Dr. Barrington’s book has been the best investment and reference for me as the process unfolds.

I reached out to the evaluation community through AEA and my regional organization, volunteering on the local and national level and taking advantage of training such as Ann K. Emery’s Data Visualization workshop. Her blog and resources are amazing. I also follow Sheila Robinson, AEA365 Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators, and advice on Potent Presentations, p2i.

I found that knowing what you are good at helps to provide direction as you begin. Fields of experience help me to narrow the scope so I know what projects to consider and where to place my energies for marketing. Gail Barrington outlines this in her book very well.

My experience transitioning from in-house evaluation to independent evaluation and consulting has confirmed for me that membership in AEA is essential to provide the big picture and grounding in principles, training is imperative to stay current, and connecting with others in the field is invaluable.

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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Hello All! Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor here with even more good news about audience engagement! Last Saturday, I wrote this post introducing the new Audience Engagement Workbook, the new Potent Presentations (p2i) tool featuring the WHY, WHAT and HOW of audience engagement, along with 20 specific strategies any presenter can use with limited investment of time or money. Look for the workbook to be posted on the p2i site any minute now!

In just a moment, I’ll share another strategy from the book, but in the meantime, I want to let you know about another opportunity to learn about audience engagement. Are you excited? Raise your hand if you want to learn more! (Are you feeling engaged now?)

Hot Tip: Join me for an AEA Coffee Break Webinar* – Audience Engagement Strategies for Potent Presentations – on Thursday October 9 at 2:00pm EST where I’ll preview several key strategies appropriate for a variety of presentation types. Click here to register.

Cool Trick: Try a quote mingle. This requires some preparation in that you will gather quotes about a topic and print them out on cards – enough for each participant to have one (either print a few quotes on cardstock or on paper, cut apart, and paste to index cards). Use this activity as an icebreaker opportunity for participants to introduce themselves, or during or at the end of the session to have them make a connection to your content. Distribute cards randomly, and ask each participant to stand and get with a partner. Partners take turns reading their quotes, saying briefly what the quotes mean to them, and then introducing themselves, or answering your question, or relating the quote to their situation, etc. Once the exchange is over, call time and ask partners to exchange quotes, and find a different partner. Do as many exchanges as time permits.

Quick tip: You don’t need to gather as many quotes as participants. You can repeat quotes two or three times to produce larger sets of cards.

Caution: You will need a microphone or loud projecting voice to be able to call time to switch partners and to call an end to the activity. This activity will likely be very challenging with a group larger than 60-70 people.

Image credit: Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Image credit: Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Rad Resource: The p2i family of tools and resources to polish your presentation to perfection!

Hot Tip: Type”p2i” in the search box (just look to your right…see it?) and read some great aea365 posts from people who have used p2i tools to spice up their presentations.

*Coffee Break Webinars are free for AEA members. Not a member? Why not join now? Click here for more information.

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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Greetings, we’re Ann K. Emery and Johanna Morariu, Innovation Network evaluators and p2i Advisory Board Members. We train foundations and nonprofits on everything from Evaluation 101 concepts to logic models to data visualization through both in-person trainings and online webinars.

Lesson Learned: Want to rock your next webinar? We’ve adapted p2i’s preparation, design, and delivery strategies for our webinars, plus created a few of our own strategies.

Message: Structure (and Time!) Your Webinar Content. First, outline your content. Don’t sit down to a blank PowerPoint file and just start typing; your webinar will be much better if you structure, chunk, and organize first.

Second, consider the p2i Messaging Model. I ask myself, “How much time does each particular story, example, or resource really deserve? 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes?”

Finally, create a Pacing Schedule by writing the main headers from your outline and their corresponding time allocations onto a large sheet of paper. During the live webinar, display the Pacing Schedule somewhere visible so you can glance up and make sure you’re on track.

Emery Morariu 1

Design: Structure Your Slides. As you sit down to design your slides, don’t forget about your original outline. Through Stephanie Evergreen’s Design Demo slidedeck for p2i, we learned about creating divider slides to alert the audience that new sections are beginning. We use this design strategy in live workshops as well as online webinars so that participants can better parse and digest the new information.

Can you spot our divider slides below? We use big font against dark backgrounds, which contrast from the main body slides.

Emery Morariu 2

Delivery: Structure Your Physical Space. Deliver your best webinar ever by carefully structuring your physical space.

As shown below, we use three laptops. Laptop #1 is for viewing your slides and speaking points (rather than clumsily flipping through hard copies of notes). Laptop #2 is the “live” webinar laptop, which is registered for the webinar in the Presenter role. Laptop #3 is registered for the webinar in the Participant role so you can spy on yourself and make sure your slides are progressing smoothly.

Learn more about structuring your physical space at http://annkemery.com/webinar-command-center/.

Emery Morariu 3

How have you adapted p2i strategies for your webinars? Do you have additional tips to share? Comment below or connect with us on twitter: @annkemery and @j_morariu.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating p2i Week with AEA members who have used our Potent Presentations Initiative. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members who have used p2i strategies in their presentations. 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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Hello evaluation folks! I am Laura Beals, Director of Evaluation at Jewish Family and Children’s Service, a large multi-service nonprofit in Waltham, MA. Last year was my first AEA annual conference and I was fortunate to be able to present. As I was preparing my presentation, I was alerted to p2i resources; while at first I was (admittedly) not quite sure how to apply some of the tips, they have been instrumental in how I have improved my presentation style.

Hot Tips:

  • One of my favorite p2i tips is to state your key take-aways at the beginning of the presentation, as described in the “Messaging” tutorial on the p2i homepage. Lately, especially when I am presenting evaluation findings and I want an audience-driven discussion, I also state upfront what I am asking of people (e.g., “I will be asking you to provide me feedback on the methodology”).
  • My second favorite p2i tip is that handouts do not have to be printouts of your slides; in fact, handouts should be created separately to complement the presentation. Once I mentally separated the presentation from the handouts, I found myself having more freedom in my slides, since I knew they didn’t have to be understood out of the context of the presentation. For example, below is a side-by-side comparison of two slides and the handout from a literature review training I gave at my agency:

Beals

  • I will be honest—presentations that are primarily visual take time to prepare, so allot extra time, especially when you are first learning. It has taken time and practice for me to undo the default “bulleted PowerPoint style.” While now I can more easily envision a visual presentation from the outset, I often have to make my presentation the “old-school” way (bullets) to start, which then serves as an outline of what content I want to make sure to address on each slide. Then, I go through each slide and think about the key take-away and how I can present it visually instead.
  • If you are feeling stuck about how to design your slides, poster, or handout, be inspired by others! I recently listened to a NPR TED Radio Hour show on Originality—in it the guests reflected on how we borrow ideas from others. I find that when I am stuck with where to begin, I like to use others’ as inspiration (and I stress “inspiration”—be respectful of the copyrights of other artists—only use materials that are released for re-use and always attribute!). For example, I love COLOURlovers for color palettes and I have been inspired by Stephanie Evergreen’s “rule of thirds” template and the “Fab Five” reboots on the p2i website.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating p2i Week with AEA members who have used our Potent Presentations Initiative. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members who have used p2i strategies in their presentations. 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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My name is Meredith Haaf and I work for the Evaluation Studies Unit in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. I used the p2i poster guidelines to create a conference poster illustrating the findings of an evaluation.

Although I had some ideas for creating effective presentations, I wanted to learn new strategies to make this poster stand out in the right way.

Rad Resources: The poster guidelines provide an overview of suggestions for creating an effective poster. Topics include font size, language use, and choice of colour and graphics.  It was a great resource to use as a starting point and for reference during the editing stages.

This How-to Guide uses visuals in a step-by-step guide to revamping research posters. It helped me to apply the poster guidelines with easy-to-follow instructions for reducing the amount of text, adding graphics, choosing colour schemes, and more.

Before

The first iteration of my poster used a solid dark background and white text. The charts included all of the survey items related to a given topic, in addition to call-out boxes containing qualitative data. The choice of colours made it difficult to distinguish between the charts and the background (e.g., blue on blue). Moreover, the large amount of text and data seemed difficult for the reader to digest in a short amount of time. The images are intentionally blurry to mask our data, but you can still get the gist of the layout.

Haaf 2

After

After reviewing the p2i resources, I realized it was possible to greatly reduce the amount of data presented, while still effectively communicating the results of the evaluation.

I reduced the number of survey items presented in each section, focusing only on those directly related to my key message. I also summarized the findings in bullet points. Having less text allowed me to increase the size of the graphics and the amount of white space.

Haaf 1

The p2i poster examples showed me that a light-coloured background with dark text and brightly coloured graphics are more easily viewed from a distance (i.e., higher contrast). My new poster used white columns with a solid grey background to emphasize the charts and tables:

Lesson Learned: The most important take-home message I gathered from the p2i resources on poster presentations is to “keep it simple”. Your poster does not need to illustrate all findings related to a particular project; rather, ensure you are presenting key findings in the most clear and engaging manner. Your audience will appreciate being able to easily grasp the basis of your project, and any further questions can be addressed by you during the poster presentation or in follow-up communications!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating p2i Week with AEA members who have used our Potent Presentations Initiative. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members who have used p2i strategies in their presentations. 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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I’m Kate Haley Goldman, and I’m the co-owner of Audience Viewpoints Consulting. We work with informal science and arts and cultural institutions.

Last year, I applied p2i Design principles to a presentation I gave at the Visitor Studies Association conference. It was the best way to showcase my content for several reasons. First, it fit my topic – Nimble Evaluation, which focused on the overlap between design thinking and rapid iteration. Second, I was trained in the academic-style approach to reporting but that clashed with the key approaches of the technology developers I work with. My developer friends found our reports and presentations too dense, too dull, and non-actionable. My academic colleagues were concerned that without graphs and extensive background, our complex work would be taken out of context and watered down. The p2i approach to presenting helped bridge these ideas.

While I’d made similar presentations within the tech field for years, I hadn’t tried it with researchers and evaluators. Nonetheless, I took a leap and employed the lessons from the Potent Presentations Initiative and my graphic designer friends and presented slides in their style when I talked about Nimble Evaluation at the VSA conference.  No graphs, few words, mostly pictures. Full-bleed color pictures help the audience deepen their connection to the context and the lack of bullets allow them to focus on the speaker.

Rad Resource: Since then I’ve moved the majority of my presentations to this style. I’ve also discovered the p2i Rad Resources, which give not only examples of how to present in this more effective manner, but they do so in ways that academic, data-driven evaluators can appreciate. In particular, I’d like to draw attention to the Design webinar session hosted by Stephanie Evergreen, which can be found on the p2i homepage.

Because Stephanie offers the rationale for the design choices made, you can not only make more effective presentations but understand why they are effective. You’ll still need the same amount of preparation time (or perhaps even more) for your slides, as fewer words on the screen forces you to be an organized and engaging speaker. We’ve found the Rad Resources at p2i help support and reinforce better speaking in all our presentations, at conferences and elsewhere.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating p2i Week with AEA members who have used our Potent Presentations Initiative. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members who have used p2i strategies in their presentations. 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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I’m Taj Carson and I’m the CEO of CRC, where we help organizations to tell their stories using data and data visualization. Last year, the Data Visualization & Reporting TIG hosted an Ignite session at the annual conference. I knew our work in mapping, including the development of the Baltimore DataMind, would be a great way to introduce people to the beauty and wonder of maps. The Ignite format involves a five minute presentation, using only 20 slides. That means I had better get to the point quickly.

Lessons Learned: Trying to be funny (haha) makes you feel funny (strange). I rehearsed my presentation and co-wrote it with two colleagues, Sheila Matano and Jill Scheibler. We laughed so hard making this presentation. But the whole time I kept saying “What if WE think it’s funny, but no one else does? What if other people don’t get it?” Trying to do a dynamic presentation in a new format is scary. Lucky for me the other evaluators in the room liked it as much as we did.

Hot Tips: Practice like your life depends on it. I practiced my Ignite presentation so many times that I had it unintentionally (but not robotically) memorized.

  • Figure out what you want to say, what’s your message? For me it was to convey our enthusiasm and excitement about maps and mapping data and to show others how beautiful that can be, while making them laugh at the same time. We wanted to be funny and irreverent because that’s how we roll here at CRC, so it was a good fit for us, and entertaining for the audience.
  • No more than a handful of words per slide! Words are over-rated. Seriously, don’t read your slides. Doing this in a regular presentation is bad enough, you will be shunned if you do this (or have giant tables full of tiny numbers) in an Ignite presentation.
  • Use the opportunity to show, not tell, what you want to say. We showed good maps and bad maps. We mocked the bad maps and pointed out why the good maps were so easy to understand.

Carson 1

 

Carson 2

  • Don’t be afraid to hack the format. Layer multiple photos onto one slide. For me it meant that the timing had to be down to within 2-3 seconds as we went from image to image, but it was still only 20 slides!

Rad Resources:

  • Then read Jon Udell’s thoughts on how to actually practice the presentation.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating p2i Week with AEA members who have used our Potent Presentations Initiative. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members who have used p2i strategies in their presentations. 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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Potent Presentations aren’t just for paper sessions! This week’s posts, curated by dataviz dynamo Stephanie Evergreen, highlight ways that AEA members have used the Potent Presentations Initiative beyond paper sessions at the annual conference. If you think p2i doesn’t apply to your session type or situation, read on for inspirational guidance!

Kia ora (greetings, from New Zealand), evaluators! I’m Jane Davidson and I’m an evaluation coach, trainer, facilitator, and consultant (check me out at EvaluationCoaching.com).

Looking forward to the AEA conference in Denver? Had a presentation or workshop accepted? Now is the time to start thinking about how to ROCK that room!

Lessons Learned: Ever had one of those “Where do I start?” moments when trying to create a conference presentation? I have had more than one of those, and p2i snapped me out of my mental block! Better still, it’s useful for demo sessions and workshops too!

Rad Resource: Check out my all-time favorites: the p2i Messaging Video and the Messaging Model Handout. These have literally saved me again and again!

Hot Tips: Just this one diagram was pure gold – stick it up on your wall right this second:

Davidson

Now, be honest, people. Have you ever nailed the background piece of a 15-minute presentation in just 45 seconds? And then gone straight to the bottom line? No, I hadn’t either!

But here’s the really cool thing. I use the same guidelines to plan demonstration sessions, mini-workshops, and even my big 2-day preconference workshop at AEA. When I’m explaining a particular concept, method, or example, I use roughly the same time proportions to make sure I get the message across in the most understandable way.

I particularly love that all-important part at the end: What do you want people to DO differently once they leave your presentation or workshop? For example, the next time someone tells one of my workshop attendees that it’s “all just subjective” whether a result is good or not, I want them to totally nail the response with the great explanation I give them. The p2i Messaging Model reminds me to say so!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating p2i Week with AEA members who have used our Potent Presentations Initiative. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members who have used p2i strategies in their presentations. 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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Hey there! I’m Stephanie Evergreen, AEA’s eLearning Initiatives Director and the lead of the Potent Presentations Initiative. We merged those two things in a project to revamp five slides from five of AEA’s eStudy presenters. This month I’ll share the reboot we did to Michael Quinn Patton’s slides.

Michael is somewhat predispositioned toward use, so his slides have always been a visual support, a way to make the material more useful to the audience. This redesign was about making them better reflect Michael and the nature of his content.

Before

Before

 

After

After

Michael’s slides needed to be made at least a little more consistent with the design choices in his book, Utilization-Focused Evaluation. This is why I brought in the orange color. Then I applied that orange color to the key words in the whole quote. I put the other text in gray so as not to compete with the orange (black would be too dark). I switched to a condensed font that’s still readable to give more white space on the slide and make it feel less overwhelming. And speaking of readable, I normally would argue for removing text when a slide contains this much but since this is the actual definition, it needs to be conveyed word-for-word. So I broke lines into conceptual chunks of text & animated each so they appear as he speaks. This way, what people can read at a glance will match what Michael says. Together these strategies make the slide easier to digest.

Evaluation

Before

 

After

After

 

For bullet-heavy slides like this, one good strategy is to break up the content so there’s just one bullet per slide. But as I was reading this slide content, I realized the relationship between these bullet points. The first bullet was providing a definition of sorts and the rest were illustrating how an evaluator enacts that definition. This was the perfect type of content for an overarching visual metaphor. The first After slide introduced the overarching definition and a picture of a piñata. Then the slides that explained how an evaluator deals with the evaluation-equivalent of the exploded piñata were represented with different pictures of candy, which accurately reflected their associated bullet point.

 

Each added piece of text and its corresponding picture are on their own slide so that as Michael works through the slide deck it looks like one chunk of text is added and the picture is changed.

Read about all 5 of Michael’s redesigned slides on the Potent Presentations Initiative. Michael will be giving workshops on Development Evaluation and Utilization-Focused Evaluation at the annual conference – check him out!

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