Visual storytelling: Learning from MERL through visuals. Katherine Haugh, USAID LEARN
This lightning talk will discuss when, how and what to do in order to understand and tell stories with MERL data. We will describe key ways, means and tips on how to tell stories visually and use data to influence and improve your work.
As evaluators, we know from experience that in order for MERL data to lead to learning and adapting, the findings themselves need to be easily accessible. One way USAID’s Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) and its support contract, USAID LEARN make MERL data more accessible in reports and meetings is through visual storytelling. We use metaphors, doodles and designs to translate what our MERL data is telling us for both internal continuous learning and external knowledge sharing purposes. We also visually represent evaluation findings, telling the story of the journey of the program and the principles that guide it, can improve understanding and spark evidence-based decision-making. To visualize our MERL data, we use several online tools and applications as well as pen and paper. This includes platforms to visualize networks of stakeholders to identify gaps and key interlocutors, map out relationships between data and ideas to understand the flow and type of contribution and synthesize data to test assumptions and provide areas for learning. This lightning talk will be useful for evaluators who are looking for creative ways to share their MERL data that accurately tells their story and compels learning into action.
Katherine Haugh is a Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Associate with the USAID LEARN team. Katherine is passionate about translating MERL data into creative visuals to aid learning and adapting. More about Kat at LEARN.