We’re John Nash, Chair, and Jenny Lyons, Co-Chair, from the Data Visualization and Reporting TIG. We have a great week planned!
We want to lay down some simple truth talk: communicating findings and data is not easy work. We probably don’t need to tell you the current landscape of reporting is not wonderful. There are still exploding pie charts and 100-page reports going out to the world. Our audiences deserve better.
- Knowing your target audience is everything. Your audience drives everything from the mode of communication, visuals, and language used. Invest ample time and energy into identifying and getting to know their interests, needs, and burning questions.
- Keep utilization at the forefront of visualization and report development. Keep in mind that data visualizations and reports aren’t merely developed for their own sake. The ultimate purpose of a visualization or report is that it is used. People should use evaluations to foster impact and change.
Hi, I’m Kasey Gordon, M&E Specialist at the Ministry of Planning and Development in the warm isles of Trinidad and Tobago. I love nature and dream a lot but lose sleep worrying about how evaluators and researchers communicate findings. In a generation of tweets, 20 second page visits, 2-3 minute videos and 10 second vines and memes (see cool Infographic on attention span), it’s tough. We write papers and reports that lack generational appeal with little reach or impact online. When I hear “too long”, “boring”, “not engaging” and ultimately dreaded, “…AND!”, I’m led to believe that even if we speak truth to power, audiences still may not care. I’m guilty also because if it doesn’t tell me an entertaining story I will ‘frown-upon and scroll-down-upon’ it. We want audiences to notice, read, value, use and possibly share… right? So the pertinent questions are, How do we get them to care? and How do we captivate and reach them?
Storytelling and Content Marketing can help. Storytelling, particularly accompanied by visuals, is a needed art that keeps attention while sharing important findings. It’s more difficult than presenting sterile data alone. Dr. Brene Brown would say “Stories are just data with a soul.” Check this diagram I did about ‘souling-up’ reports and findings.
Hot Tip: Try developing 1-page summaries, infographics and supportive images to dispense information in multiple formats for a diverse audience. This helps whittle large reports into more shareable items.
Versta Research summed it up saying “far from telling lies, most reports fail to tell any story at all.” Stories should never take away the truth of findings, and even a good story can still be silently buried in the sheer volume of content uploaded, shared and posted. This is where Content marketing helps in reaching audiences. What I’ve learnt from Animal Político’s news reports on The Master Fraud is that knowing your audience and their channels is as important as storytelling through information design, formats and multimedia.
Your audience is never obligated to give attention no matter how scientific or factual findings are. Storytelling and Marketing help achieve this and are key in the march of truth to power. Perhaps even climate change awareness could have had more of an impact if more of these tools were applied, who knows?
- “Game of Knowns” – brief intro to Content Marketing
- Stephanie Evergreen – making reports visually digestible
- Aruffo’ s paper – turning scientific findings into stories
- Infogram – easy infographics
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Data Visualization and Reporting (DVR) Week with our colleagues in the DVR Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from DVR TIG 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.