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Conference evaluation at a glance


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Short presentation on conference evaluation presented to the Geneva Evaluation Network by Laetitia Lienart of IAS and Glenn O'Neil of Owl RE on 16 March 2011

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Conference evaluation at a glance

  1. 1. GENEVA EVALUATION NETWORK WORKSHOP CONFERENCE EVALUATIONOrganized by Laetitia Lienart & Glenn O’Neil Geneva, 16 March 2011
  2. 2. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO EVALUATE CONFERENCES? Institutional Memory ESSENTIAL FOR… Continuous Accountability Learning/ Improvement
  3. 3. WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIVES OF CONFERENCE EVALUATIONS? ASSESS IMMEDIATE IMPACTSPROCESS OUTCOMES (lasting changes) At individual Governance Reactions level Learnings/ At organizational Programme Benefits level Logistics & Applications At country level onsite support Information/ Communication
  4. 4. RELEVANT DATA COLLECTION METHODSFace-to-face or phone individual interviews (structured & semi-structured)Focus group interviewsOnline surveysPrinted surveysStructured observations of key sessions and conference areasReview of conference programme and online resourcesReview of statistical data on conference registration, scholarship recipients, abstracts, etcReview of statistical data and evaluation findings from previous conference to allow comparison over time
  5. 5. RELEVANT DATA COLLECTION METHODS (cont.)Use of rapporteurs to follow sessions addressing key topics. Their feedback can be also used to measure some indicators (e.g. number of sessions presenting new findings).Use of conference “instant” feedback systems.Use of network analysis and mapping.Analysis of the conference media coverage.Review of posts and comments left by delegates and non-attendees on the conference blog, Facebook page and Twitter.
  6. 6. Focus on IMPACT ASSESSMENT Assessing conference impact(s) is feasible but needs to beplanned and budgeted for at the planning stage (incl. in ToRs) Methods: follow-up survey (online/face-to-face), action plans Ex: AIDS 2008 follow-up survey (1,5 year after)  1,195 AIDS 2008 delegates completed the survey  About 2/3 had learnt something new and had changed some aspects of their work practice thanks to the new knowledge gained at the conference  Almost half reported that AIDS 2008 had directly influenced their organizations’ HIV work  Almost 4 in 10 were aware of AIDS 2008’s influences on HIV work, policies or advocacy in their countries  75% had kept in contact with at least 1 person met at AIDS 2008, mainly to exchange knowledge, lessons learnt and/or suggested solutions (86%)
  7. 7. USE OF EVALUATION FINDINGSEvaluation findings should be “very usable” as conferences are often repeated annually or bi-annually.Importance of “buy-in” of conference organizers.Sharing of evaluation plan with conference organizers and committees/working groups*.Evaluation reports: the quality of content and format is crucial to attract readers and convince them that evaluation results are reliable and useable.Dissemination of evaluation results: timely, use a variety of channels depending on the target audience.Use of follow-up mechanisms** with conference organizers and relevant stakeholders.Review progress on evaluation findings in the lead-up to the next conference.
  8. 8. KEY LESSONS LEARNT1. Over-positive feedback (new strategy to be tested in 2011).2. Evaluation report more used as an accountability & marketing tool rather than for learning purposes.3. Unwillingness of conference organizers to devote adequate human & financial resources to evaluation.4. Impact assessment remains a challenge (difficult to measure the extent to which changes are attributable to the conference, especially policies, norms & guidelines).5. Data disaggregation is important to make evaluation results more accurate and useful*.6. Conference evaluation provides unique opportunity to see how findings are integrated (or not) into future conferences.
  9. 9. Further informationProceedings (slides & handouts) of a 1-day workshop onconference evaluation held in Nov 2010 are available onrequest (email free to join the Conference Evaluation Google Group:’s blog has more resources on conference evaluation,see category “event evaluation: