Communicating Results to Different Audiences

by Lester W. Baxter and Marc T. Braverman

This chapter is about the communication of evaluation results—an area that experience shows can frequently be neglected or devalued. Communication of results is sometimes viewed as a procedurally routine phase of the evaluation process that involves drafting and distributing a report, possibly accompanied by a meeting or oral presentation. Furthermore, many evaluation reports follow the template of a research paper, in which background, hypotheses, techniques, findings, and recommendations are methodically detailed. What sometimes seems to underlie this standardized approach to communication is the belief that an evaluation study's technical aspects (such as its adequacy of design, soundness of data-collection methods, and relevance of data analysis) require thorough consideration, whereas its human aspects (such as how the project gets communicated, what it finally means, and whether it answers people's questions) are easily managed. Of course, this view is mistaken. Good communication is neither easy nor routine, and careful attention to it can enhance the conduct of evaluations themselves and increase their usefulness to a wide variety of audiences.


Baxter, Lester W., and Marc T. Braverman, "Communicating Results to Different Audiences." In Foundations and Evaluation: Contexts and Practices for Effective Philanthropy, edited by Marc T. Braverman, Norman A. Constantine and Jana Kay Slater (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 2004). This material is used by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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