4 Replies Latest reply on Sep 7, 2016 7:28 AM by William Aubrey

    Tableau Tutorial Presentation Mechanics

    William Aubrey

      (Edit: January 24, 2018: Correction to "con" listed under "July 2016 Maps" section below.  The large file size was actually a result of a corrupted "My Tableau Repository" folder.  If you are experiencing large file sizes on all TWBX files, try closing Tableau and renaming "My Tableau Repository" to "My Tableau Repository-OLD". This folder will automatically be regenerated and may solve the large file size problem.)


      What is the best approach to make a Tableau Tutorial presentation to educate, engage and entertain your user group audience?

      As an employee of a Tableau consultancy and as a Charlotte Tableau User Group leader, I’m motivated to create content to teach my clients and user group members Tableau. The materials have to be useful for both a live presentation and as a resource people can use on their own at a later date. At one extreme, we can create colorful presentations with imagery and graphics that catch the eye, but rely on the speaker’s talk to provide the context. At the other extreme, a step by step cookbook may be informative and serve as a good reference (like a knowledge base article), but it may not be very engaging for a live audience.


      We’ve been fortunate in Charlotte to have enthusiastic members at all skill levels; from beginners to seasoned professionals running large Tableau Server implementations. That means there is a wide variety for meetings at different levels. In 2016, we established a quarterly cadence where we repeat three types of meetings each quarter:

      • Month One: a Beginners' Meeting
      • Month Two: a Speaker Meeting
      • Month Three: a social mixer event


      The speaker meetings may vary in topic or skill level, depending on the speaker. The beginners' meeting, however, has been structured so that we started at the beginning with basic terminology and offer topic-oriented sessions in subsequent quarters. This has provided a good opportunity to test different techniques for teaching Tableau and making reference materials.

      The following is a re-cap of the presentation techniques used in our first CTUG meeting and our past three Beginners' Meeting along with the pros and cons of each technique:

      August 2015 - “Level of Detail Workshop”

      The basics of Level of Detail calculations were presented in a series of slides. Sample exercises were established on the last slide. A TWBX file was used to walk through each of the sample exercises as a series of numbered Tableau worksheets.

      PDF File: https://community.tableau.com/docs/DOC-9531
      TWBX File: https://public.tableau.com/views/Level_of_Detail_Workshop/1a

      • Fast to develop the presentation and workbook
      • Speaker must switch back and forth between the PDF slides and the TWBX file worksheets. This can be disorienting to the audience.
      • As reference materials, it may be difficult to connect the sample exercise slide with the numbered Tableau worksheets in the TWBX file.


      January 2016 - “Tableau Terminology and Basic Dashboard Building Demonstration”


      A Tableau terminology presentation was presented and then followed up with a live demonstration on how to build a simple dashboard using the Superstore dataset.


      PDF File:  https://community.tableau.com/docs/DOC-8655

      TWBX File: N/A - live demonstration


      • The terminology presentation is well suited to a slide show (static screenshots of Tableau Desktop work well enough to relate terms to Desktop icons)
      • Serves as a good reference for later use by audience members.
      • Terminology presentation required about 10 or more hours to prepare.
      • Live demonstration has no corresponding TWBX file.
      • No reference material available for later use by audience.
      • Demo may be better suited to a video format.



      April 2016 - “Everything you CAN do in Tableau with Text Tables, but (maybe) shouldn’t.”


      This presentation marked the first use of Tableau as both the presentation and demonstration medium. Dashboard tabs were used as “presentation slides”. Light use of graphics / imagery to make the slides more engaging. Tableau worksheets added to dashboards to show the example “live”.


      TWBX File: https://public.tableau.com/views/EverythingyouCANdoinTableauwithTextTablesbutshouldnt_/TitlePage


      • Both presentation and demonstration in a single file
      • Using a single file keeps the presentation flow more consistent than switching between a presentation and Tableau Desktop
      • Tableau Tabs numbered in sequence to allow the user to easily navigate when referencing later
      • On Dashboards, it’s possible to use a background image of the “Tableau workspace” and then position the live worksheet in the same position over the background image. This can be an interesting look allowing for graphic callouts on the view and background image.
      • Reasonable file size @ ~5Mb
      • Very intensive to create structure for the “lesson plan” and Time consuming to create graphics / imagery (About 20 hours or more for building the presentation)



      July 2016 - “Maps! Maps! Maps!”


      TWBX File: https://public.tableau.com/views/MapsMapsMaps_1/MapsMapsMaps


      • “Slick” appearance using the Storyboards for the entire presentation
      • Usage of graphics / imagery adds an interesting look to the presentation
      • Storyboard allows for very simple navigation for audience
      • Same benefits of having presentation / demonstration in one file
      • Ridiculous file size @ ~ 130Mb This was actually a result of a corrupted "My Tableau Repository" folder.  If you are experiencing large file sizes on all TWBX files, try closing Tableau and renaming "My Tableau Repository" to "My Tableau Repository-OLD". This folder will automatically be regenerated and may solve the large file size problem.
      • Intensive to create the file (~20 hours or more)
      • Storyboard limits the ease of jumping to worksheets or dashboards (Quick nav jumps are disabled)
      • Using the Storyboard exclusively will require the speaker to manually navigate tabs to drill into a worksheet. This can be disorienting to the audience.


      From these experiences, the approach I’m looking forward to trying next will be to continue to use Tableau Desktop as both the presentation medium as well as the demonstration medium. Instead of relying solely on Storyboards for navigation, I’ll return to using the tabs as the overall driver for “slide sequence”. There is a good place for all of the “tab-types” in Tableau tutorials. There will be spots where your audience needs to see a live demo in the Worksheets, but there will also be opportunities for tight storytelling sequences suitable for the Storyboards. Dashboards will always have a place as the happy median between those options.  Numbering the tabs in sequence (regardless of tab-type) will provide a good reference for audiences who download your material in the future.


      Thanks in advance for your thoughts on what makes a great Tableau Tutorial presentation!


      William Aubrey

        • 1. Re: Tableau Tutorial Presentation Mechanics

          Great insight to what you are doing with your TUG! I think there is always a fine line between hands on vs speaker, and also worrying about the various levels of experience across the entire user group. And I think many TUGs are looking to use Tableau as the presentation platform as well - I'd be curious to hear your thoughts as you continue your journey. We had 2 Tableau reps come to our last meeting in June and they used desktop as their presentation medium and it worked well.


          While currently my TUG meets quarterly I like the variety you have in your meetings - beginner, speaker, and social mixer. I'm debating about doing a "Tableau Doctor" type of meeting, where people bring in .twbx extracts of THEIR data, and we have an expert with each group sit and answer questions. I ran a small working session for some folks at Iowa State University (very new using Tableau) and they communicated that working with their own data really helped with keeping them engaged and focus - they weren't using generic "superstore" data or data that isn't relevant (i.e. mapping dashboards when they don't use geo data, etc). Not sure how successful it would be for a new, small TUG like mine but it might work for you.


          Good stuff! Keep us updated.

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Tableau Tutorial Presentation Mechanics
            William Aubrey

            Thanks for the feedback, Jason! I'll let you know how the next one goes.


            The "Tableau Doctor" meeting sounds like a great idea. My colleagues at the Boulder TUG have had some success running meetings like this. We tried a hands-on workshop early on, but it had limited success. I try to offer a free virtual "Tableau's Doctor Hour" every week, but only about a half dozen people have taken me up on the offer. It might be time to try the group exercise approach again.

            • 3. Re: Tableau Tutorial Presentation Mechanics
              Siraj Samsudeen

              Hi William,


              Thank you so much for taking the time to create such a detailed post. I have started the first Tableau User Group in India (at Chennai) and we have had 3 sessions so far. As of now, I am having a beginner session one month and advanced user session another month. It is great to see that you have a quarterly cadence - as the user group matures, I would experiment with your format.


              I am adding to my to-do list to review the materials you have shared. Once I am done, I will post my feedback. Thanks a lot once again and have a nice day William!

              • 4. Re: Tableau Tutorial Presentation Mechanics
                William Aubrey

                Hi Siraj,


                Thanks for the feedback! Congratulations on starting your user group! It's very rewarding to help people learn about Tableau. Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you.