Visual Reports and Multi-Media

The Keys to Utilization-Focused Communications and Reporting Part Two: Creating Visual Reports and Multi-Media Communication Products that Engage your Audience

Increasingly, evaluators, trainers, and technical assistance providers are being asked to bring communications and knowledge management skills to bear in support of encouraging uptake and use of final project deliverables. In part one of this blog series, we shared the importance of mapping utilization objectives for each potential audience and then mapping where and how best to reach each group.

Once you know your audience and have identified your objectives and key messages, you are ready to develop a report or other communication product that shines. As you get to work, we recommend you keep the following “Cs” in mind:

  • Colonialism and Capitalism – Be aware of the language that arises from colonialism and capitalism, and look for substitutions. For example, instead of “the field,” try referring to the particular country.
  • Concise – Keep it short!
  • Credibility – Communicate in a way your audience finds compelling, drawing on sources they see as reliable.
  • Call (to Action) – Help your audience know what you want them to do with the information you are providing. A clear call to action will help them put the information that you are providing to use!
  • Clarity – Use plain language as much as possible. Eliminate jargon to encourage understanding and use. When you can, eliminate the acronyms as well. If your audience doesn’t understand what you are talking about, they cannot heed your call to action.
  • Creativity – Ensure your products are compelling in look and feel and follow best practices related to spacing and colors, length, and imagery.
  • Conversation – When you can engage groups in conversation around topics you are trying to share, consider a webinar or a blog post that encourages engagement. Whether big or small, the opportunity to react to what you are sharing can raise engagement levels to new heights.
  • Co-creation – Use translators, harness technology, request photos or voice messages. Do what you need to but find ways to bring the people you are working with and for into your communications efforts. Their voices will be the most effective in calling for change.
  • Conformance – Attend to 508 compliance considerations by building in the time you need to make all products conform to the necessary standards for accessibility. For live meetings or events, be sure to consider what language or accessibility needs your audience may have. Arrange for transcription, translation, or whatever support is required.

Special Note on the “Cs”: There are lots of opinions on what the “C’s of Communication” ought to be. A simple online search will reveal a wide variety of options for you to consider. Check them out. Many good communications principles out there start with the letter C.

What we focus on grows!

The more you think about uptake and use during the planning stages, the more likely you will be able to see uptake and use achieved at the end of your engagement. We create resources (reports, videos, websites, etc.) for people who need something from us. The more we can infuse a human-centered design mindset into our reporting and communications efforts, the more successful we will be in supporting real change.

We wish you the best of luck on this journey. We’d love to know what strategies have worked for you in this communications and reporting effort or see examples of some of the amazing products you have produced!

Additional Online Resources

Check out some online resources that inspire us:

Interested in Learning More….

If you would like to learn more about effective reporting and presentation techniques, check out our EnCompass Learning Center courses on:

Beeta Tahmassebi

Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

Beeta Shadman Tahmassebi, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, oversees EnCompass' knowledge management and communications teams, manages enterprise risk management, and is Executive Director for the EnCompass Learning Center (ELC). From 2017 to 2020, Ms. Tahmassebi was also Director of Operations for The Evaluators' Institute. She has managed evaluation and development programs for a range of clients, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institutes of Health, USAID, Save the Children, Lutheran World Relief, IREX, American Library Association, Institute for Museum and Library Services, U.S. Department of Labor, World Food Programme, International Fund for Agricultural Development, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Marriot International, and Daimler AG. With many years of experience designing, managing, and evaluating capacity strengthening and learning programs, Ms. Tahmassebi is excited to provide high-quality professional development in evaluation, management, and international development to a global audience of learners through the ELC. She is a champion for young and emerging evaluators, bringing a strong commitment to lifelong learning to EnCompass' clients. Ms. Tahmassebi serves on the Board of Directors (2020 President-Elect and 2021 President) for Washington Evaluators, the largest local affiliate of the American Evaluation Association (AEA). She is a frequent presenter at special events and conferences, serves on the AEA Working Group for Evaluation Professionalization, and is an active member of the AEA local affiliates collaborative. She has an MBA from Georgetown University’s McDounough School of Business and is proficient in Farsi.

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