Hi! I’m Kevin Lee. One key takeaway from my year as a GEDI scholar is the idea of communication in evaluation. More specifically, I was exposed to thinking about how to communicate findings in meaningful ways. Whereas writing a grant, working on a manuscript, or completing a report template can often lead to page after page of convoluted text and technical terminology, conveying meaningful data and results has the potential to be less structured yet equally powerful. In reflecting on my experience as a GEDI, I share some guidelines that have helped me think about how I communicate evaluation findings:
- Understand and define the stakeholders. It’s important to carefully consider for who the findings are intended. This dictates the kind of information that an evaluator wants to communicate and the most appropriate way to do this. Whether the results are for government officials, academic researchers, funders, or community members makes a difference.
- Determine what data are important. As any evaluator knows, an evaluation can generate an extensive amount of data. It’s often necessary to consider what kind of information is relevant based on the evaluation purpose and its stakeholders. While it may be tempting to share all the results, this may be unnecessary for stakeholders who may become overwhelmed by information.
- Interpret the data clearly. Data can be interpreted in different ways. Think about what the data are saying and how this can be communicated clearly, concisely and in a way that is relevant to your audience. Reported data should have a purpose and tell a story rather than simply list numbers and facts.
- Think about design. To effectively share evaluation findings, consider how the data should be presented. Not only does this refer to interpretation, but also in thinking about the presentation format, data visualization, graphic use, and layout composition, among other aesthetic elements. Creativity and design can garner attention, generate interest, and promote memory retention.
Rad Resources: Dr. Stephanie Evergreen is always insightful about data presentation. You can find information about her books and workshops here: http://stephanieevergreen.com/.
Try your best to enroll in her pre-conference sessions at the annual AEA conference as they tend to fill quickly.
Also very helpful are Elissa Schloesser’s artful interpretations of data. See more here: http://myvisualvoice.com/.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s GEDI Program and its interns. For more information on GEDI, see their webpage here: http://www.eval.org/GEDI 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.