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Concurrent Pre-Conference Workshops

Audience Engagement Strategies for Potent

Presentations with Sheila B. Robinson, EdD

Sheila B. Robinson, Ed.D.

Presentations are ultimately about audience learning. Successful presenters work in service to their participants, whether they are presenting an evaluation report, giving a keynote speech, facilitating a professional development workshop or training session, or even running a meeting with stakeholders. Participants in this highly interactive workshop will learn

fundamental principles of audience engagement by experiencing each activity as they consider how it can inform their own presentation planning. They will experience more than a dozen ways to engage adult audiences with activities and mini-lessons that flow together coherently, while allowing time for processing and reflection throughout the course. Participants will come to understand the WHY, the WHAT and the HOW of audience engagement, explore purpose distinctions for audience engagement strategies, and receive instruction on how to effectively integrate these strategies into presentation planning. During demonstrations the instructor will also share how each principle and strategy has been used in an evaluation specific context. The guiding principle of this course will be, as marketing guru Seth Godin claims, ”Every presentation worth doing has just one purpose: To make change happen.”

Participants Will Learn:

1. Fundamental principles of audience engagement that can inform presentation and professional development planning.

2. To articulate several purpose distinctions for audience engagement strategies.

3. How to effectively integrate audience engagement strategies in their presentation and professional development planning.

4. To use a variety of interactive strategies to engage audiences for maximum participant satisfaction and learning.

Strengthening Your Core:

Whole-Hearted Interpersonal Practices

Libby Smith, M.S.

As evaluators, we are regularly challenged to understand the needs of a wide variety of stakeholders, navigate competing priorities of program directors and funders, and facilitate use of evaluation to make meaningful change. In the process, we are called upon to engage in deep listening, understand power dynamics, communicate with diverse audiences, manage conflict, and build relationships. To say that evaluators need strong interpersonal skills is an understatement.

In this workshop we will focus on building core strengths for strong interpersonal skills. How do we develop the emotional regulation needed to manage conflict effectively? How do we embrace humility and release our need to show up as the expert? How do we develop an acceptance for different ways of knowing? How do we set boundaries that lead to respectful relationships? How do we show compassion for ourselves when we are invariably imperfect?

These are big questions to grapple with, but there are fundamental practices that help us engage with them in whole-hearted, embodied ways. Together we will explore a range of practices including mindfulness, improv, perspective taking, somatic experiencing, reflective practice, breathwork, and the deep listening of sitting in circle together.

Participants Will:

1. Understand that self-compassion is the foundation of strong interpersonal skills

2. Learn how to engage in a cycle of intention setting, vulnerability, and reflective practice to build a strong foundation

3. Feel supported in their interpersonal growth no matter where they are starting from

Morning & Afternoon Plenary Sessions

Rakesh Mohan, Director, Idaho Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluations

Morning: Trust & Transparency: Tools Greater Than Authority 

One of the core elements of evaluation is speaking truth to power—but it is not for the faint-hearted. Speaking truth to power involves taking risks and facing consequences. By building trust and transparency, one can mitigate that risk. Rakesh will illustrate how trust and transparency are more powerful than authority.

Afternoon: Lessons Learned from Evaluation Failures: Communication, Reflection, Empathy & Cultivating Evaluation Champions

Evaluations are inherently political. Conducting independent evaluations in high-stakes political environments requires balancing independence from and responsiveness to the same sponsors and stakeholders. This means walking a tightrope. Rakesh will share lessons learned from his many tightrope walks over the past 17 years in Idaho’s legislative environment.

Concurrent Conference Sessions


Engaging Presentation Audiences with Effective

Slide Design

Sheila B. Robinson, Ed.D.

We’re deep in the age of visual communication, and evaluators in all practice areas find themselves in the position of having to present. Whether informing stakeholders about program processes, reporting results of an intervention, or sharing research at a conference, we share the goal of wanting presentations to achieve their intended purpose. Presenters, challenged to keep up, face criticism for poor and ineffective use of slides to support their messages and must adapt to changing expectations of current audiences. This session focuses on slide design as a key component of presentations, but these skills also translate to reports and other formats for disseminating evaluation findings.

Participants will learn WHY slide design is an essential skill for presenters to master. It’s not about making slides beautiful, but rather designing them to be effective in advancing the purpose of the presentation: informing, teaching, or persuading. They will learn to locate high quality visuals, modify images by cropping, recoloring, and using artistic effects, place images to complement text and data, and choose the correct size for download. They will also learn keyword strategies to find photographs with specific features such as blur, streak, and low light.

Seth Godin says “make slides that reinforce your words, not repeat them.” Participants will learn HOW to design effective slides using images, icons, color, whitespace, and text along with concepts including arrangement, unity, and hierarchy.

Don’t know a jpg from a png? Think bleeding and isolation are bad things? This session is for you.

Participants Will Learn:

1. WHY effective slide design matters to audiences and serves to advance the presenter's message

2. HOW to easily incorporate visuals – images, graphics, icons, etc. into slides and how to reduce reliance on text-based slides

3. WHAT simple strategies can be used for modifying photographs to complement slide design and enhance key presentation messages

Reflective Practice:

The DATA Model

Tiffany Smith, Ph.D., Libby Smith, M.S. & Deven Wisner, M.S.

Reflective practice (RP) once held status as an essential competency domain for evaluators (Stevahn, King, Ghere, & Minnema, 2005), but recent work by the AEA taskforce to identify competencies for adoption found RP largely missing (AEA Competencies, 2018). This is a critical omission – evaluators must be trained in the “art” of RP! In this interactive skill-building workshop, attendees will build (or reinvigorate!) a strong understanding of the value of RP in collaboration with their peers. The DATA model (Smith, Barlow, Peters, & Skolits, 2015) provides a simple framework that allows evaluators to (D)escribe, (A)nalyze, (T)heorize, and (A)ct based on the results. Taking time to reflect via this model systematizes, in a generative way, an often-considered intuitive process that might help us pave the way to a more thoughtful evaluation practice, both present and future. Session attendees will leave with a practical tool for RP to take into their own practice.

Participants Will Learn:

This skill-building workshop will identify the current state of the field with regard to the benefits of reflective practice, highlight the need for the field to maintain the importance of reflective practice as an evaluator competency (despite its removal), and most importantly, walk participants through the DATA model, allowing them to reflect on personal, practice-based dilemmas with their evaluation peers, both new and seasoned. Participants will first (D)escribe a dilemma happening in practice. They will then (A)nalyze the current state of their practice: Why is this dilemma happening? Next, based on analysis, participants will come up with a practical (T)heory for how to act. Finally, participants will explain how they will (A)ct, based on critical reflection.


Effective Facilitation

Allison Titcomb, Ph.D.

Description coming soon!

Engaging Community Around Research & Data

Wendy Wolfersteig, PhD; Maria Aguilar-Amaya, DM; Grant Yoder, MSW; Kathryn Hamm, MPA; Marisol Diaz, JD; Micaela Mercado, PhD

This panel discussion will focus on Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and how to enact that in community settings when conducting evaluation projects. CBPR will be defined and discussed as a needed approach when working with community stakeholders. Specific examples of how to implement CBPR and make it successful will be presented by a team of evaluators who have used these strategies extensively to conduct research and explain findings. Ways to communicate with stakeholders around research and data will be presented and discussed as the basis for participants to develop new competencies for engaging with community.

Participants Will Learn:

1. Why the Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach is important.

2. Strategies for enacting CBPR.

3. Strategies for working with diverse stakeholders and organizations.

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