Annual Report Crunch? 5 Steps to Sharing Annual Success
EACE contribution by Jen Pollard, Assistant Director for Trends, Assessment, and Communication at George Mason University
As we approach the final home stretch for this academic year, you may start to dread the need to compile and produce an annual report. Don’t let old rituals and nightmares about Excel stop you from sharing your success. Here are five easy steps to telling a compelling data-driven story that will resonate with stakeholders:
- Identify your audience
This step should always come first. Before you start piecing together your survey responses, engagement numbers, and learning outcomes for the year, decide what information is important to which audience. In terms of your story, one size doesn’t always fit all – especially in Higher Education.
- Envision and draft your story
Once you’ve narrowed down your target audience, map out your story. Ask yourself the question, what is the one thing I want my audience to take away from my story? Once you have the answer, draft the rest of your story around this central theme. Write out your story in bullets or short paragraphs to help guide you in the data pairing process.
- Compile data and KPIs to support your story
Utilize your story outline to choose the data points that support the key elements of the story. Remember, you do not need to use every positive data stat you have. Strategically choose the strongest quantitative and qualitative elements that tell your story in a concise yet powerful manner.
- Design (or elicit help in designing) visuals
This step often intimidates those who have little or no experience in graphic design. Infographics may appear intimidating, but there are several platforms to help even creatively challenged professionals produce beautiful data visualizations. Piktochart is one such platform. Another option is to elicit the help of a design or art student who may be looking for an internship opportunity to build a portfolio.
- Share your story of success
Once your infographic, video, or visual report is finalized, don’t let it go unnoticed! Share your visual annual report with your networks through social media, post a link on your LinkedIn profile, and send a polished email (using a free platform such as Mail Chimp) to all stakeholders.
Examples from George Mason University:
Jen Pollard is the Assistant Director for Trends, Assessment, and Communication at George Mason University. Beginning her career at a PR agency, Jen leverages her digital knowledge and design skills to help the career center visually communicate data with stakeholders and maintain strong relationships throughout the university. Jen earned a BS in Marketing from Bentley University and is currently pursuing an MAIS in Higher Education at George Mason. Her interest include assessment, forecasting and trend analysis, instructional design, and branding.