(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.
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.
TWBX File: N/A - live demonstration
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”.
July 2016 - “Maps! Maps! Maps!”
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!