Skip all navigation and go to page content

NEO Shop Talk

The blog of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Evaluation Office

Archive for September, 2015

The OERC is on the Road Again

Friday, September 25th, 2015

The OERC is on the road again.  Today, Cindy and Beth Layton, Associate Director of the NN/LM Greater Midwest Region, are team-teaching Measuring What Matters to Stakeholders at the Michigan Health Sciences Library Association’s annual conference in Flint, MI.

Logo for Michigan Health Sciences Library Association

This workshop covers strategies for using evaluation to enhance and communicate a library’s value to organizational decision-makers and stakeholders who influence decision makers. The workshop combines updated information with material from the NN/LM MidContinental Region’s Measuring Your Impact and the OERC’s Valuing Your Library workshops that have been taught by a number of regional medical library staff members over the past decade.

On Saturday, Karen is presenting a brand-new workshop for the Texas Library Association’s District 8 Conference called Adding Meaning to Planning: A Step-by-Step Method for Involving Your Community in Meaningful Library Planning.

TLA District 8 Logo

The workshop is a method of involving community members in creating pain-free logic models to ensure that the long term vision is always in sight when planning.  Karen wrote a blog entry about the creating “tearless” logic models here.  This is Karen’s first experience creating and delivering a workshop that is purely about library evaluation.

The NN/LM travel season is about to go into full swing.  We know we aren’t the only ones out and about with presentations, trainings, and exhibits.  So safe travels. And we will see you in a week with another OERC blog post.

Elevator Conversations Pt. 2: The OERC Pitch

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Theory and practice words written on the chalkboard Last week, I reviewed Tim David’s article “Your Elevator Pitch Needs an Elevator Pitch.” This week, Karen Vargas (my co-blogger) and I decided to challenge ourselves and write an elevator pitch for the Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (aka OERC). So this week’s post is our example of how to implement David’s approach.

The Set Up

For those of you who don’t already know about us, the OERC offers evaluation training and consultation to members of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM). Libraries and organizations from across the US join the NN/LM to help promote health information access and use. They specifically promote resources of the National Library of Medicine, which funds the program. The OERC’s charge includes helping NN/LM members use evaluation to identify their best outreach strategies and share them with colleagues, as well as to promote the results of their work.

The NN/LM is managed by the National Network Office at the National Library of Medicine.  The position of NNO Head is currently vacant.  In anticipation of the day when our new leader is hired, we decided to think about how to pitch the OERC.

The Pitch

Let’s imagine that I’m on the elevator with the new head of NNO.  This is purely hypothetical, of course. Reality may (probably will) vary.  When we incorporated one of David’s elements, we tagged it in parentheses.

OERC: “You know how the RMLs and organizations in the NN/LM do great and noble work funded by NLM, but we aren’t always sure how to get the message across about what we do?” (problem question)

NNO Head: “Well, yes.”

OERC: Everyone in the network is hungry to know what strategies work well and which ones are a waste of time. We want to be able to share lessons learned about how to do outreach. Ideally, we want to provide solid evidence that allows us to talk credibly about the results of our good work.” (noddable)

NNO Head: “I can agree that’s important.”

OERC:Well, the OERC helps NN/LM members use evaluation to learn what strategies work well. We also teach them how to take advantage of their evaluation data to get the message out about positive results and lessons learned.” (curiosity statement)

NNO Head: Really?  How do you do that?

OERC: “We combine training with one-to-one coaching. For example, an NN/LM outreach coordinator, Michelle Eberle, led one of the New England Region’s Communities of Interests, which is one of NER’s innovative approaches to promoting use of NLM consumer health resources.  Michelle has taken a lot of our training sessions over the years, so she developed an evaluation questionnaire for the COI, then asked me to review it. In the end, she got some good evidence of success and was able to publish an article about her project in MLA News. So that project was shared with a lot of health sciences librarians both in and outside of her region. That’s just one example.  In the past year alone, two of us taught evaluation webinars to about 580 participants and provided consultations on 31 projects.” (example)

The Close

Note: Tim David is a corporate communication consultant, so his elevator pitch was designed to produce a meeting with a potential client.  Our goal is similar.  We would hope for a meeting with the new Head of NNO to present more details about how we support the NN/LM. It will allow him or her to better understand our role (and our value) to the network. If our elevator pitch worked, we think the conversation would end something like this:

NNO Head: “It sounds as though you have other good stories to share.”

OERC:When you have some time, we would love to schedule a meeting to share more about some of our other evaluation projects with the NN/LM libraries and organizations. We would be happy to put together a presentation for you.”


David T. Your elevator pitch needs an elevator pitch. Harvard Business Review. 30 Dec 2014.  Retrieved 13 Sept 2015.

Eberle, Michelle L.; Malachowski, Margot; Richetelle, Alberta; Lahoz, Monina; McIntosh, Linda; Moore, Bradley; Searl, Jen; and Kronick, Judy, “Clear: Conversations: A Collaborative Regional Project to Help Patients Improve their Health Visits” (2014). National Network of Libraries of Medicine New England Region (NN/LM NER) Repository. Paper 25. (Michelle’s article about this project was published in the MLA News, August 2014, titled: Clear: Conversations: A Project to Help Patients Improve Their Health Visits.)


Give Your Elevator Pitch a Lift

Friday, September 11th, 2015

It is the elevator button of up sign.

Forget about elevator speeches.  Think elevator conversations.

Elevator pitches are one of a number of strategies you can use to stealthily promote your organization’s successful programs and services. We cover elevator pitches in an OERC workshop about how to use evaluation to better advocate for your organization. I always thought of elevator pitches as little promotional speeches of elevator-ride length (i.e. 20-seconds) that you can slip into small talk when you run in to “someone influential.”  You add nuggets of evaluation findings to these mini-speeches to demonstrate program value.

I now see that I was missing a key element in the elevator pitch exchange: the other person.

I can thank this insight to Tim David and his article Your Elevator Pitch Needs an Elevator Pitch, which appeared in the Harvard Business Review (10 Dec 2014).  David emphasizes the importance of engaging your fellow elevator traveler, rather than talking “at” him or her.

As such, you have to prepare a conversation, not a speech.

What I appreciate in particular is how he seamlessly slips in evidence to support his low-key pitch. See, for instance, how he surreptitiously inserts a statistic that he must have obtained from a follow-up evaluation with one of his client organizations.  Specifically, the organization reported that productivity and morale increased 38% after his training. David seamlessly folds that little fact into the conversation and it underscores the value his service provided to the organization.

That’s how to tie evaluation to advocacy, folks!

Here are the other tips I took away from the article:

  • Answer polite but perfunctory questions (such as “what does your office do?”) with a surprising answer. This is harder than it looks, so I’m going to have to practice this tip. (“Hi Mom, did you know….?”)
  • Use questions to draw your elevator companion into the conversation. David suggests that you talk no more than 20% of the time. Yield the remainder of the time to the other traveler, but use questions to keep the conversation rolling.
  • Don’t worry too much about that 20-second time frame traditionally recommended for elevator pitches. If you successfully engage your fellow rider, he or she will hold the elevator door open to continue the chat.

We have posted a number of articles about weaving evaluation results into stories (see June 29, July 2, and August 21 of this year. The elevator pitch format is a good addition to your story-telling tool kit. But it is the extra-credit challenge. It will take some practice to be able to present an elevator pitch casually and conversationally. If you’re up for that challenge, then check out Tim David’s article for some excellent guidelines.


Which Online Survey Tool Should I Use? A Review of Reviews

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Quality survey close up with a thumbtack pointing on the word excellentRecently we faced the realization that we would have to reevaluate the online survey tool that we have been using. We thought that we would share some of the things that we learn along the way.

First of all, finding a place that evaluates survey products (like Survey Monkey or Survey Gizmo), is not as easy as going to Consumer Reports or Amazon (or CNET, Epinions, or Buzzillions).  A number of places can be found on the internet that provide reviews of surveys, but their quality is highly varied.   So for this week our project has been to compare review websites to see what we can learn from and about them.

Here are the best ones I could find that compare online survey tools:’s Ultimate Guide to Forms and Surveys, Chapter 7 “The 20 Best Online Survey Builder Tools”

This resource compares 20 different online survey tools. There is a chart with a brief statement of what each survey tool is best for, what you get for free, and the lowest plan cost. Additionally, there is a paragraph description of each tool and what it does best.  Note: this is part of an eBook published in 2015 which includes chapters like “The Best Online Form Builders for Every Task.”’s “18 Awesome Survey & Poll Apps”

This review was posted on May 27, 2015 which reassures us that the information is most likely up to date.  While there are very brief descriptions, it is good for a quick comparison of the survey products. Each review includes whether or not there is a free account, if the surveys can be customized, and whether or not there are ready-made templates.’s “Top Survey Software Products”

Check boxes showing the features of the different productsThis resource appears to be almost too good to be true. Alas, no date shown means that the specificity in the comparisons might not be accurate.  Nevertheless, this website lists over 200 survey software products, has separate profile pages on each product (with varying amounts of detail), and lists features that each product offers.  You can even narrow down the surveys you are looking for by filtering by feature.  Hopefully the features in Capterra’s database are kept updated for each product.  One thing to point out is that at least two fairly well-known survey products (that I know of) are not in their list.’s “Top 31 Free Survey Apps”

Another review site with no date listed. This one compares 31 apps by popularity, presumably in the year the article was written. One thing that is unique about this review site is that the in-depth review includes the history and popularity of the app, the differences of each app to other apps, and who they would recommend the app to.  Many of the reviews include videos showing how to use the app.  Pretty cool.’s 2015 Best Survey Software Reviews and Comparisons

This website has the feel of Consumer Reports. It has a long article explaining why you would use survey software, how and what the reviewers tested, and the kinds of things that are important when selecting survey software. Also like Consumer Reports, it has ratings of each product (including the experiences of the business, the respondents, and the quality of the support), and individual reviews of each product showing pros and cons. Because the date is included in the review name, the information is fairly current.

This is a starting point. There are individual reviews of online survey products on a variety of websites and blogs, which are not included here.  Stay tuned for more information on online survey tools as we move forward.


Last updated on Monday, June 27, 2016

Funded by the National Library of Medicine under Contract No. UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.