Know thy audience. When you develop training, you do your best to make it audience sensitive. The same treatment should be afforded the planning of an evaluation or research results presentation. Some of the obvious audience questions to ask and answer are:
• Is the audience all decision makers?
• How do they like results communicated?
• What sorts of presentations have they given “10s” to in the past?
• How do they respond to displays of numbers? Tables? Graphs? Charts?
As a rule of thumb, it’s safe to say that decision makers are more receptive to “big picture” results reports than they are to reams of charts and correlations. The further removed the decision maker is from the problem, the more concerned he or she is with broad results and findings.
Of course there are data-cruncher decision makers to be dealt with, but they tend to be a minority. The best rule of thumb is, “Ask ’em how they like their eggs.” No one expects the fry cook to guess how you want your eggs; they won’t fault you for asking how they want their results cooked and served. Don’t, under any circumstance, try to outguess the audience. Find out how they want their results packaged and then do it.
Communicate as you go. Communicating results is not a one-shot affair. Douglas R. Berdie, the other half of Anderson and Berdie, believes that part of the communication job is to keep the client posted on everything that’s happening. Send the sponsor and/or key decision makers copies of surveys, schedules and your routine field communiques about the project. Pen some sort of FYI on their copies. As results accumulate, share bits and pieces with your key person or persons.
Four reasons for continuous communication:
• The sponsor is paying for your time and effort and needs to see energy being expended; action builds credibility and trust.
• The results of your study will be more easily accepted by those who have ownership feelings toward the study. Asking the sponsor for advice and making brief informal interim reports help build that ownership.
• Sponsors and key decision makers can give valuable feedback. An unexpected, unusual or especially damning finding needs validation. Sponsors can tell you if your findings make sense and they can tell you how others are going to respond when your findings are made public. Both these bits of information help you tailor the presentation of results to your audience.
• Sponsors don’t like public surprises, especially bad ones. By giving key decision makers or sponsors an advanced look at results, you give them time to think about implications and prepare their response to the public presentation of results. If results are good, they need time to see implications and get excited about them. If results are bad, they need time to plan response strategies. Sponsors and key decision makers want to be on your side— they hired you— and they want to appear calm and in control. A tactical information leak gives them the lead time they need to look good and be on your side.
Source : Training Magazine