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Greetings aea365 readers and potent presenters!  Sheila B Robinson here, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor doing double duty as coordinator for our Potent Presentations Initiative, aka p2i. P2i is about helping evaluators improve their presentation skills, whether it’s for the AEA annual conference, any other conference, or any other type of presentation or meeting. Our p2i site is chock full of free tools, guidelines, videos, and checklists to help you develop your presentation’s message, design, and delivery and help you engage your audience with interactive strategies.

Hot Tip: Now is a great time to check out and download some of our free resources on the p2i Presentation Tools & Guidelines page. They’re organized around three primary components of a great presentation: Message, Design, and Delivery. Engaging your audience is an additional key element and we have a resource for that as well.

Hot Tip: Read what some of our aea365 authors have had to say about their experiences using p2i tools and resources.

Cool Trick: Check out what people are saying about p2i on Twitter using our new hashtag, #aeap2i!

Get Involved: Have you used a p2i tool to help with your presentation? Tweet about it (don’t forget the hashtag!), or consider composing an article for aea365 on how you used it and how it worked for you!

Not presenting, but chairing a session? There’s a tool there for you too! Our Session Chairs Checklist offers advice for preparing for your role and supporting presenters.

Finally, check out the Presenter Resources page for Evaluation 2017 for more info!

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 loyal readers! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor with a few tips on creating handouts for your next presentation (#Eval17 perhaps?).

Repeat after me: Slides are not handouts! Slides are NOT handouts! I know, I know…it’s just so easy to print out your slides and give them to workshop participants, team members, or meeting attendees. The trouble is that when a presenter does this, one of two things tend to happen:

  1. The slides are loaded with text (because the presenter wants participants to go home with some key points to review later, a noble intent) and that compromises the effectiveness and success of the presentation. The thing is, according to Nancy Duarte, “An audience can’t listen to your presentation and read detailed, text-heavy slides at the same time (not without missing key parts of your message, anyway).”
  1. The slides are well designed with very little text and instead feature relevant graphics and images such that the slides themselves make little sense when separated from the presenter and presentation.

Condition #1 leaves participants with a set of key points that could have been distributed as a handout with no need for the presentation, while condition #2 leaves participants with a potentially great presentation experience but no easy way to review or remember key points (unless they were taking their own notes).

Hot Tip: Creating a separate presentation handout mitigates both of the above conditions. Here’s one caveat before we continue: Not all presentations require a handout. In fact, not all presentations even require slides! And, it’s certainly feasible to have a “slideless” presentation that does include a handout. The point is to be intentional about whatever resources accompany a presentation. Our Potent Presentations Initiative p2i Messaging tools can help with that aspect of presentation planning.

Rad Resource: So, without further ado…The newest tool in the p2i toolbox is our Guidelines for Handouts, now available on our Presentations Tools and Guidelines page. Use this tool to gain insight and perspective into WHY we use handouts, HOW to create effective handouts, WHAT should be included in a handout, and WHEN to distribute handouts – before, during, or after a presentation. Guidelines for Handouts includes an example of what a presentation handout could look like, and also features loads of Insider Tips and links to additional content.

So, let’s make a deal. I promise to deliver an idea-packed handouts tool, and you agree to stop printing your slides, OK?

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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Julie Bronder Mason

My name is Julie Bronder Mason, Ph.D., and I am the Deputy Director of the Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications at the National Institute of Mental Health.  I have spent a fair number of years conducting, overseeing, advising, and presenting on program evaluations, and the tips I will share stem from a corpus of professional presentation coaching; AEA’s Potent Presentations Initiative (p2i); communications and leadership development courses; and practice, experience, and observation.

Lesson Learned: Give thought to your (often neglected) transitions!

Often, presenters place primary emphasis on slide content and design, and give little (or no) thought to transitions within and between those striking slides!  So how can you polish your evaluation presentation and provide a seamless flow?

Hot Tip # 1: Use the logic model as a unifying thread

Just as your logic model is the guiding light for your evaluation, consider using it as the cornerstone for your presentation.  Reveal the elements in tandem, fading away components you have already discussed or have not yet reached.  Return to the logic model as a reminder throughout the talk.  For instance, “we just highlighted the input variables, and before diving into the specifics (fade to gray), let’s discuss program activities (emphasize) and how we will collect our data.”

Hot Tip # 2: Reflect on within-slide transitions

If you must use a bulleted list in your slides, think about the relationship between those list items. Why did you group them together in the first place?  Imagine a slide where you will be describing data you are collecting on biomedical research training program outcomes.  Your slide may have the following three bullets: early-stage investigators, co-authorship networks, and subsequent publications. You could tick those outcomes off in list fashion, (e.g., “bread, butter, cheese”) or you could appeal to your audience with the linkage between those items (“aha, we’re making grilled cheese”)!  Rather than discuss each bullet separately, define how they interlock. “We’re collecting data on outcomes from our training program that include examining how many new early-stage investigators have emerged, because expansion of this population will be an indicator of workforce sustainability.  How well this workforce collaborates, as estimated by development of co-authorship networks, is key to understanding information dissemination…” and so forth!

Hot Tip # 3: Plan (and practice) between-slide transitions

Even more crucial than the within-slide transition is the between-slide transition.  Here again, a little planning can reap large gains.  In the notes section of your slides, jot down a sentence or two to connect your evaluation thoughts from one slide to the next.  Your goal is to facilitate an introduction to the next slide and speak to it before advancing.  Resist the urge to click ahead and pause dazed, wondering how you landed on that next slide.  And practice those transitions!  Be familiar enough with the transition material so you can convey it in a variety of ways without appearing rehearsed.

Tips like the above three are simple to implement and can showcase you as a seasoned presenter!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Research, Technology and Development (RTD) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Research, Technology and Development Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our RTD 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 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, I’m Samantha Grant, and I serve as the Evaluation Director at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Youth Development. Like many evaluators, I am eagerly anticipating the start of the Evaluation 2016 Conference. In Minnesota the seasons are changing and we are pulling out our hats and mittens, so the thought of being in sunny Atlanta holds extra wonder for me.

One thing I’ve learned from the Potent Presentations resources is the importance of having a call to action in a presentation. Rather than ending at a low point with questions, you should end with bringing your participants back together and prompting participants to apply the concepts they just learned.

Today I’m shaking it up and giving all of you a call to action at Evaluation 2016. Take a look at this list and pick something to activate your conference experience.

Hot tips:

Download the app. Boo to paper, hooray for digital. The mobile conference app will keep you organized.

Network like a consultant. I love watching evaluators who are looking for new projects. Even though my work is steady as an internal evaluator, I encourage you to think like a consultant and network with others. Take the chance to talk with someone that you don’t know at the conference. Networking is one of the main values that conference attendees get, so use it!

Follow the crowd. By day two, my brain is full and sometimes the sessions I’ve selected seem like too much for my mental capacity. I encourage you to find where there are big groups congregating for a session. Attend this one. You might learn something new.

Get outside. You better believe that I’m going to relish not wearing multiple layers, so get outside and see beautiful Atlanta. Take in some Southern cuisine, go for a run in a local park, or tour one of the local tourist attractions.

Attend a TIG meeting. Topical Interest Groups are a great way to meet people who are passionate about the same things. Find one of the TIGs you are interested in and learn more about them by attending their annual meeting.

Introduce yourself. As a lesser known evaluator, I have the opportunity to meet some of my evaluation idols. Make an effort to introduce yourself to an evaluator whose work you follow closely. Trust me, everyone loves to meet someone that gives them compliments.

Do you have ideas for other conference presenters? If so, leave them in the comments.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at Evaluation 2016. I hope you enjoy the conference and test out one of these calls to action.

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.

 

Hello All! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor with some tips for navigation Evaluation 2016!

Cool Trick: If you want all of these tips described in detail, log into the AEA website (if you are a member), click on Coffee Break Webinars (under the “Learn” menu), then click the Coffee Break Webinar Archive and look for my recent webinar, Navigating the Annual AEA Conference: Tips for First Time Attendees from September 20. cbd-screenshot

Hot Tips: Here are some tips for getting the most out of the conference – before, during, and after:

BEFORE:

  1. Visit the conference website
  2. Search the conference program to find sessions to attend
  3. Read about the various presentation types
  4. Visit The Potent Presentations Initiative site and use the Potent Presentations tools to craft your presentation
  5. Subscribe to AEA365 and look for Local Area Working Group (LAWG) posts to learn about the conference city

DURING:

  1. Go to the registration table to pick up your name tag and materials; then look for the ribbon table
  2. Plan to attend the networking events on Wednesday (1st Time Attendees Orientation, Poster Session & Meet the Authors Reception); Thursday (TIG Business Meetings); and Friday (Awards Luncheon [$45], Reception & Silent Auction)
  3. Save time to visit the vendor exhibits
  4. Tweet your learning using the hashtag #Eval16 (and share on other social media as well!)

AFTER:

  1. Take advantage of publishers’ discounts on books
  2. Revisit AEA365 and become a daily reader
  3. Check the AEA Public eLibrary for materials from your favorite sessions, or sessions you missed
  4. Look for contact information for TIGs and Affiliates and stay involved with them.
  5. Find AEA, along with TIGs and Affiliates on social media to stay up-to-date on activities.
  6. Consider submitting a proposal to present at Evaluation 2017!

Have any tips to add to this list? Please add them in the comments!

Enjoy Atlanta and Evaluation 2017!

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.

 

Hello loyal readers! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor with some last minute tips for your Evaluation 2016 conference proposals!

Hot Tip: Take the time to read through the main conference proposal page. It contains a wealth of information AND multiple links to additional information and key resources (such as descriptions of all presentation types) that can help you prepare the best proposal possible.

Hotter Tip: While it’s not required to link your proposal to the conference theme, you are encouraged to learn about and keep the conference theme in mind as you prepare. Click here to learn about this year’s conference theme, Evaluation + Design.

Cool Tricks: Take advantage of a treasure trove of resources available through the AEA website to inform the development of your proposal and (we hope!) your sessions.

1.) Potent Presentations Initiative (p2i): Look for resources on three key elements of a presentation: Message, Design and Delivery, resources for engaging your audiences, as well as those to help in designing your research posters and Ignite sessions.

2.) Check out the AEA Public eLibrary for handouts from previous conference sessions for a little inspiration.

3.) Skim through the aea365 archive (look for the link up there…yes, right above the title of this post!), or use our search box (it’s there…on the right…see it?) to find out what’s been written on your topic or related areas.

Hot Tip: Make sure your proposals are submitted on time! Proposal Submissions must be received by 11:59 PM ET March 15, 2016.

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.

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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Happy Fall loyal readers! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor with a reminder to register early for Evaluation 2015.

Hot Tip: Be an early bird! Register now. If you are planning to attend Evaluation 2015, the American Evaluation Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois this November, and have not yet done so, register today to receive early bird rates. After Tuesday October 6, registration rates will go up.

Hot Tip: Take advantage of high quality, in-depth learning opportunities. Register for professional development workshops now. AEA’s professional development workshops* are taught by some of the best presenters/facilitators in the field and with 60 half-day, full-day, and two-day options, you’re sure to find a session that meets your learning needs. Workshops are filling up fast! *PD workshops are an additional cost and require separate registration, but early bird rates apply here too!

Hotter Tip: The American Evaluation Association is proud to announce a partnership with the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) to offer a unique thread of professional development training options as part of the pre- and post-conference offerings during Evaluation 2015 in Chicago, IL. CREA will offer a thread of six professional development workshops on evaluation theory, methods, and practice grounded in culturally responsive evaluation.

Cool Trick: Learn about Chicago in order to plan some “down time” and take in some of the sights. Click here to find out a little about the city from the AEA website, and search on this blog for “LAWG” (that’s Local Area Working Group)  posts from this past July and September to learn more from AEA members who live and work in that area.

Cool Trick: Get ready to be a potent presenter! If you’re preparing a presentation for the conference (or for any other event!), learn more about our Potent Presentations (p2i) Initiative and read through some of the resources to up your game and deliver a strong, audience appealing presentation. It’s not about having “pretty” slides, but rather, about purposefully crafting your presentation’s central message, designing appropriate visual content that supports your audience’s understanding of the content, using audience engagement strategies to encourage and support their attention to the presentation, and learning how to deliver a strong presentation.

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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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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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