Visual tools are powerful - Handle with care!

Keisuke Taketani, visual facilitator
©Atanu Sarma

From the EvalForward community Visual tools are powerful - Handle with care!

2 min.

Reflections on the Evalforward discussion ‘Can visual tools help evaluators communicate and engage better?’

The recent EvalForward discussion confirmed the potential of visual tools to do much more than just communicate evaluation findings. Visual tools, used effectively, can enhance the evaluation process itself.

Here are some of the ways our group members are using visual tools in 2023.

use of visual tools in evaluation

But participants in our discussion also gave us a warning.  Tools as powerful as these cannot be used as ‘a cute add on’. They need to be handled with care! 

use of visual tools

As evaluators, we take enormous care with the language we use in our reports and verbal communication. An unclear report or inaccurate, culturally inappropriate statement can do enormous damage to the credibility of our findings. Visual tools are no different. A hurriedly planned/last minute visual tool will not be effective and could even be harmful.

We need to learn the language and skills of visual tools so we can use them effectively. When we consider using a tool, we need to ask ourselves: does this fit our purpose? Is it culturally appropriate? Does it suit the learning preferences of our stakeholders? 

Those of us who create visual tools for others have a responsibility to educate those around us and to resist agreeing visual products as last minute ‘add-ons’ with insufficient planning and preparation.

And we need to evaluate!! Even though we are all evaluators, feedback loops for our visual tools (and other communication products) are surprisingly rare!  WFP has recently made an important start in creating a baseline survey of its evaluation users. Will this form the basis for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of its communication and engagement?  I hope so, and that others, including my own organisation will do the same.

Let’s keep in touch and keep sharing ideas in the comment box below. 

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