Making Evaluation Findings More Engaging

Patrizia Cocca
19 June 2024
Making Evaluation Findings More Engaging, blog post by Patrizia Cocca, Communications and Knowledge Management Lead at the Global Evaluation Initiative
How can we make evaluation findings more accessible and more understandable? GEI Communications and Knowledge Management Lead Patrizia Cocca shares key insights from GEI's gLOCAL webinar on making evaluation more engaging through creative and strategic communications.

Patrizia Cocca leads the Communications and Knowledge Management Team of GEI. 


“Being evaluated is not fun,” Dugan Fraser, GEI Program Manager, admitted at an event during gLOCAL Evaluation Week 2024 in June. As a communicator, this phrase stayed with me as it poses big questions: How can we make evaluation findings more accessible? How do we present them in an understandable manner? And, in a way that helps decision-makers use the evidence produced? 

In the evaluation world, communicating the findings is crucial to ensure the results are understood and utilized by the intended audience. However, this can be challenging as evaluation findings are often a hard sell. They don't always tell the story we hoped to hear, and the target audience is generally not made up of M&E-savvy people. 

This need to be understood and present content that can be very technical or sensitive is why GEI hosted a webinar during gLOCAL 2024 on Communication Strategies for Making Evaluation More Engaging and More Inclusive. The webinar panelists, consisting of communication professionals from the GEI global team and the Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEARs), shared strategies and tools to make evaluation findings more engaging and relatable. 

Here are seven ways the panel suggested to make evaluations more accessible:

1.  Go where the audience is/talk the way they talk 

Sruti Srinivasan, Senior Communications Associate from CLEAR-SA talked about the importance of tailoring messages. “The first step in creating any communication product is understanding its purpose and audience. Ask yourself, why are we creating this product? and who is it for?” said Sruti. Clarity helps in tailoring messages and selecting the most appropriate communication channels. “When we present any insights to a government partner, their first question is, what do we do now? For this reason, we present evaluation reports to our government partner as actionable as possible.” 

2.  Building relationships with partners helps amplify messages 

Talitha Hlaka, Communications Officer from CLEAR AA, said that building relationships by leveraging partnerships with stakeholders and organizations can help amplify messages. “A continuous dialogue with the stakeholders will help you to refine your messages and your tools and your strategy," she said. "While it teaches people to think like a communicator, even if they're not communicators," she said. 

Once you know who you are talking to, then you can choose the most appropriate way to deliver your message. 

3.  Keep language simple 

Thales Figueiredo da Silva, Knowledge Dissemination Consultant from CLEAR-LAB, talked about how evaluation reports often contain jargon, acronyms, and technical concepts that can overwhelm non-professionals. To make evaluation findings more accessible, it's essential to simplify the language in a way that bridges the gap between M&E experts and laypersons. “With that in mind, we then choose the format that best fits the subject and the audience selected," he said. In Brazil, CLEAR-LAB also found that podcasts were particularly effective for the intended audience. 

4.  Create spaces to exchange views 

In Francophone African countries, WhatsApp groups and webinars are proving to be more effective. “The institutionalization of quarterly webinars has enabled a diverse audience – government authorities, experts, beneficiaries, and emerging evaluators - to regularly exchange views on M&E issues relevant to region,” said Doudou Ndiaye, Communications and Knowledge Management Officer from CLEAR-FA

5.  Persuasion and inspiration can bring about change 

Zahra Rao, Senior Associate for Communications from CLEAR-PCA, explained how sharing evaluation findings does not happen in a vacuum. “We have faced sometimes challenges around transparency," she said. "Not all organizations, not all governments want somebody to come in and do evaluations and then make the findings public.” Cristian Crespo, Director of CLEAR-LAC, expanded on this further. “Evaluations are not only a technical enterprise," he said. "They are inserted in a very political environment. So, persuading, communicating, and inspiring, is really, really important to make change happen." 

6.  Use visuals to explain complex data simply 

But how do we make our messages unforgettable? The use of visuals and storytelling are powerful tools in communication. Infographics, charts, and images can convey complex information in an easily digestible format. “When presenting data, consider using visuals to highlight key findings," said Luca Padovani, GEI Communications Consultant for Graphic and Web Design. "This not only engages the audience but also helps them retain information better." 

7.  Create a human connection 

The panel agreed that human stories can transform dry data into engaging narratives. Whenever possible, by sharing stories of individuals impacted by the evaluated program, we create an emotional connection with our audience. Highlighting positive changes brought about by the intervention makes the findings more tangible and meaningful. 

To hear more insights from the panel, please feel free to watch the webinar