RE: Can visual tools help evaluators communicate and engage better? | Eval Forward

Evaluations are not "written reports".

Evaluations are processes to understand if, how, and to what extent the programme produces change (expected and unexpected).

If you embrace this view, then communication is clearly at the core of it: to communicate purpose, to elicit ideas, and to formulate and share findings.

Unfortunately, evaluators are most often conversant with written words and not with other forms of communication.

This greatly limits engaging stakeholders and sharing findings, as other people might prefer other communication methods.

In my experience, just about anything works better than reports: cartoons, graphs, infographics, theatre, music, multimedia, etc.

(yes, I tried them all. and they were welcomed by all sorts of stakeholders, including donors)

Evaluators should not just think "report". They should think about the best combination of different ways of communicating.

Illiterate people can perfectly understand visuals - if visuals are properly set -

Participatory toolboxes contain ideas for showing and discussing percentages through visual aids.

Definitely, they are more likely to understand visuals rather than reports written in English...

Of course, if we understand "visuals" only as Excel graphs, we miss a whole world of possibilities.

And visuals cannot be improvised: as there is a grammar to write words, there is also grammar and a style to produce visuals.

Even looking at the specifics of data charts, there are whole books on data visualizations, offering examples (and also highlighting potential challenges for miscommunications).  A simple visual can go a long way. But a good visual is not simple to do.

Definitely, let's go beyond the written word. But let's remember that this cannot be improvised.