I’m Mario Lurig, the Technical Training Manager at SurveyGizmo, an online survey software tool. Translation: I help evaluators become survey rockstars for their clients.
Hot Tips: There are 3 unique questions that evaluators need to keep in the forefront of their mind when surveying respondents:
- Is there an easier way to get my data?
- How can I communicate the results effectively?
- Is there an opportunity for further research?
Is there an easier way? Probably. When you first start learning a new skill, your brain thinks in tangents, trying to find various ways of accomplishing the same thing. Imagine building a fort in your home with just the items in the house. Kids thrive at this game because the ‘how’ is not already defined, while adults start thinking about the items that fit a particular picture they already have created. Just because it has always been done a particular way doesn’t mean that there isn’t a faster or easier way, you just want to be open to the idea of doing it a little differently, especially if it saves you time or energy. I didn’t write this on a typewriter.
How can I get my results across? If you’ve never heard of or read the book, Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath, I strongly recommend giving it a read. Inevitably, when it is time to present your data, you need to make the overall point a SUCCESs: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories. Get your client hooked on your results, then dig into the data. Many times presenters justify their results before ever presenting the final findings, losing their audience instead of grabbing them from the beginning. Besides, in the end, you want to impress your clients with your work, which leads to the final question.
Is there an opportunity? Data is a funny thing, because it is likely that in all the results you were looking to gather, you sometimes stumble against something interesting and most likely outside of the scope of your current goals. How is this information typically treated? “That’s interesting; Moving on…” Do you hear that? It’s opportunity knocking. Put the data aside, and when the main project is completed, spend a little time seeing if there is an opportunity for further research for the client. An evaluator’s job is to not only gather and make sense of the information, but provide some direction for the future. It’s always better to be the driver than to be a passenger who can be removed from the car at any point in time.
Mario will be offering an AEA Coffee Break Demonstration Webinar this coming Thursday, September 16, from 2:00-2:20 PM EST. The webinar is free to AEA Members – learn more and register at http://bit.ly/AEAcbdw. SurveyGizmo will be exhibiting at Evaluation 2010 this November in San Antonio. Take a moment to stop by their table if you will be at the conference to see their software in action!