Evaluation and follow-up
EVALUATING SET-UP & IMPACT OF YOUR EVENT
Evaluating your event helps to improve the organisation of future events. It is important to link the evaluation to the objective of the event: If the objective was networking, it is useful to focus on whether participants were able to expand their network. If the objective was innovation adoption, organisers need to monitor the participant’s inclination to adopt the demonstrated innovation.
Feedback can be gathered on the set-up (programme, locations, facilities, topic, …) and organisation of the demo, but also on what participants have learned, and what they believe to be applicable for their farm:
“What do visitors take home?”
- Know-why (motivation, raised awareness): participants are aware that there are specific problems or challenges and/or that new options are available and may be needed in the future
- Know-what (the demo topic): participants are informed on specific novelties (new practices, materials, varieties, machinery, etc.)
- Know-how: participants can connect the new information to their own practice and are able to assess possibilities to implement it on their own farm.
“What do visitors do with what they have taken home?”
This impact rarely comes from a demo alone, and is less straightforward to evaluate, because of the time lag. It takes time for participants to make actual changes in their farming practice, since it might require financial investments, new skills and knowledge, and a readjustment in the farmer’s usual routine and mind-set. The actual decision for change is also not influenced solely by the demonstration event, but includes a wide array of other information sources, such as publications in (agricultural) press, follow-up demo events, workshops, newsletters, contacts with advisors, other farmers, etc.
You can do the evaluation in different ways, such as:
- Informal talks with participants during the demo event
- Facilitated participant feedback during the demo event, using forms or based on discussions
- Evaluation forms sent to the participants afterwards. The risk of exit polls is that they are often completed too quickly when people are in a hurry to talk to other people or to go home.
- Follow-up emails or telephone calls. If wanting to assess impact, you can wait a couple of weeks, or even months for a follow-up telephone call.
- Evaluation forms for the demo organisers, to be completed during the demo event
Acting on the evaluation is important to improve future on-farm demonstration. So once the evaluation has been gathered it needs to be shared and improvements for future activities need to be implemented.
Use only a few and relevant questions. A questionnaire with many questions will be harder to get people to complete.
You are more likely to have success in collecting feedback on the day, than afterwards through email.
‘Follow-up’ refers to the further development and distribution of the content of the demo, after the event is finished, to further increase its impact. Although follow-up activities take place after the event, it is important that they are announced or discussed with the participants during the demo event.
Follow-up activities could be formal, such as organised follow-up demo events. Informal follow-up can include telephone contact between participants, the demonstrator or participating farmers talking to their neighbours.
Good follow-up activities for participants include:
- Share the participant list, with consent from the participants (in accordance with European GDPR privacy rules).
- Share contact details from the host farmer or other demonstrators for participants who are interested to learn more or to implement a practice on their farm.
- Provide information leaflets to the participants.
- Create an online platform, social media groups (e.g. WhatsApp), blogs or physical networks in which practitioners can report their experiences with other interested farmers.
- Provide a newsletter or create a website in which participants are informed about further insights and developments on the demo topic.
- Provide (group) support for those interested participants who plan to implement the practices or innovations.
Good follow-up activities for people who did not participate in the demo event include:
- Providing a report or video online of the demo event. If the video is attractive, it might also attract other farmers to participate in future demo events.
- Make use of different media sources (social media, blogs, webpages, written press, radio, etc.) to report on the event.
- Release press articles for farmers in the agricultural press, and provide brochures that can be distributed amongst farmers and advisors. It is advisable to get journalists at the event, and dedicate a specific session to journalists, to make sure they spread the right message in their articles or news items.
- For longer term trials on the host farm, the trials could be made publicly accessible, so local farmers are free to come and see the progress of the trial without the demo events.