There is almost always a need to go beyond simply producing a final report of an evaluation.
Further dissemination may include:
- presentation of the findings to the body commissioning the evaluation
- articles on the findings for academic and professional journals, newsletters, conference papers etc
- input to training
- proposals for more detailed research work based on results.
The most important audience for evaluation findings is often the organisation or department that undertook the public engagement, to help them understand the lessons identified in the evaluation. These presentations may take the form of an internal workshop so that staff can understand the lessons (e.g. as was done in the evaluation of the National Waste Dialogue), and possibly guidance notes on the lessons prepared for staff (as is planned for the lessons from the Your Health, Your Care, Your Say evaluation).
The products and outcomes of the evaluation should therefore include:
- A comprehensive report that captures the flavour of the exercise as well as giving an objective and rigorous assessment of the achievements, and that identifies lessons for future public engagement. This report should be publicly available.
- A summary report that can be made more widely available (e.g. to participants, interviewees for the research), that covers the main points and lessons from the evaluation.
- Greater understanding among those commissioning the evaluation, and those that read the reports, of what happened in the engagement exercise, how successful it was, and some insights into public engagement more generally.
It is here that evaluation can demonstrate its greatest value: increasing understanding of public engagement, and the value it can offer if it is done well and make a difference to policy and practice – and what lessons need to be taken into account in future public engagement exercises.