Day 3 started for me at 8am on evaluation failures. It was a very honest session, (felt a wee bit like giving confession) but a great way to open up the field differently. Stephanie Evergreen shared failing to get people to use effective data visualization, Patricia Rogers got up there and bravely spoke about persisting when an evaluation became symbolic and bombed. Then we all felt better by singing along with Michael Patton and Leonard Cohen with evaluation lyrics... "You never really cared about facts did you....halleluiah."

Then a remarkable keynote from a non-evaluator, Dr John Medina, a brain scientist!  He used brain science to explain how to make effective presentations and get people to retain knowledge. I am going to incorporate this stuff into our training - just watch this space! Sneak peak - he told us people can only concentrate for 10 minutes on detail. AND everyone needs meaning before detail. The order of meaning that the brain processes: a) Will it eat me? b) Can I eat it? c) Can I have sex with it? d) Will it have sex with me? e) Have I seen this before (a gush of recognition)? f) Is this something new (surprise!).

Systems have been firmly on the agenda at this conference, and I went along to an interesting interactive session with Kiwi Bob Williams. He got us to look at the interrelation between outcomes harvesting and systems thinking. Final session of the day was an in-depth session on co-designing evaluation with people living with HIV in Indonesia, "nothing about us without us" by Jenne Roberts;  very thought provoking. I also presented today on SIPSI, our new approach for reporting on Significant Instances of Systems and Policy Improvement (SIPSI), to a receptive audience. I finished the day being invited to a reception by president of the AEA, Kathy Newcomer, and had a late night chatting away with lots of fascinating people, including a great conversation with Judy Oakden from New Zealand about human systems dynamics.  Thanks so much to the AES board for letting me represent Australia at the AEA - what a privilege!

Jess Dart