I Did Webinars On Visual Analytics!

Sarka talked live on the internet!

I did two webinars on visual analytics in August and September 2020. And I have to say, I’m pretty proud of them. The first one focused on (science-based) arguments why good visual analytics matters. The second one was more about dashboarding and tons of great inspiration.

Each of them is approximately 50 minutes long, including a short Q&A section at the end. Both are created in Tableau, and you can check them out on my Tableau Public profile (links below).

If you’re interested in the design stuff, definitely go and take a good look at Canva.com. All of the headers, icons, backgrounds I use everywhere (blog, Tableau, presentation) are from there. I went Canva Pro (paid plan) to get more flexibility and also to pay back. 🙂 This is not an ad, I’m just a happy customer.

How did it all happen?

Filip, our Customer Success Manager at Billigence, is obviously a big fan of webinars and decided to push the consultants to share some happiness with the community. When he asked me to do the next one (well, it was more of an announcement), I got super excited. Especially when he told me I can do anything I find interesting.

This is more accurate than you might think. Source

I’ve been working as a Tableau consultant for the past year, and I even went through hours of Tableau Trainer training and coaching seasons. During that time, I realised two things – I love data visualisation, and I enjoy sharing what I know with other people. I could fully enjoy the excitement thanks to that realisation, thanks to lots of virtual coaching sessions I went through this year, and also thanks to the fact I could have a detailed script prepared for the webinars (when I’m nervous, I forget words, sentences, the purpose of me being there, the whole existence and everything).

Was it fun?

Yes, it was! The first one definitely showed off my technical skills when I forgot to check display settings of the external monitor, and then I had no idea how to fix it live. So the whole talk about aesthetics was accompanied by a non-aesthetical scrolling. 🤦‍♀️ (You can’t see it on YouTube, because we decided to re-record it. The fun thing here, I had to do it twice as I forgot to hit the big red start button. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️) I did the second webinar from home, and this time, I was sure the resolution won’t be an issue. But we don’t have many clear white walls at home, especially not where my DIY standing desk is. So the light and the paintings in the background were messing up with the Teams background*. Yay! Well, I took down the paintings, I pulled the curtains and let the Word on the other screen shine on me. Worked as well as it could. Thank gods the Mac’s webcam is quite good and that I have enough books at home to create a makeshift stand.

*It’s a shame Teams can’t do ‘transparent’ background with some kind of a logo watermark (there’s a ticket out there waiting for Microsoft’s attention). Coming from the marketing background, I know how sticking your (company) name to something you put out there is important. But hey, I’m also still waiting for PowerBI for Mac…

How did I prepare?

First, I had to decide what exactly I want to talk about. Visual analytics is a broad topic. So I thought, maybe I could start from the very beginning. Explaining why I believe doing it well matters. Sure, there are lots of things that are either common sense or widely available. The issue with common sense is, it can be wrong. A few of my own initial assumptions were wrong before I started digging deeper. And I’m not scared to admit it. Why was I wrong? I either didn’t know enough or I was basing my assumption on anecdata (thanks, Blake, for teaching me this cool word!).

I started making notes of what I’m interested in on our large mirror closet doors. We like to use it as a whiteboard – it’s great! When I was happy with the structure, I put it in a mind map. And then came the next step…

…lots of reading. Because I didn’t want to talk about things I think are right, I wanted some data, some scientific proof, or at least an opinion of someone who knows more than I do. Since I believe sharing is caring, I include all my sources either where I think they should be in the presentation or in the reading list at the end of each workbook. The videos/articles are terrific and they deserve to be seen/read, so go ahead.

When I decided I got enough information, I started putting the presentation together. I found a nice template in Canva that I rebuilt in Tableau. Why doing a presentation in Tableau? Because I can. Because I know how to. Because it’s a tool, I work with. (Also, I’m definitely not a PowerPoint PowerUser.) Also… we wanted to show off a bit. What can I say, marketing is everywhere, nowadays…

The presentation stuff

Last things first – before I go live, I let James, my Australian colleague, proof read the presentation because I obviously mix up American English, British English and Czenglish. Thanks, James! For the talking part, I just do my best. 👍

Ok, so now you know I used Tableau for building the presentation, Teams to do the webinars, Canva to get inspired and to create the graphics, Word for the talking points, some guys to help me through it (I forgot to mention Jirka, who listened and helped me to sieve through the ideas), some gals to help me through it (yep, I had the best cheerleading squad)… What else? I use xMind for creating mind maps, ScreenBrush for the funky rainbow whiteboarding during the webinar, mirrors and chalk markers as a whiteboard at home, and PEN&PAPER during the whole process because it’s ESSENTIAL.

So what’s the secret for making a presentation in Tableau? Containers. I can’t stress it enough, containers are key to your happiness when using Tableau. And to make it easy, just duplicate so you don’t have to deal with bringing the containers in, changing the size, colouring the background, changing the padding, … It’s the same for creating a template for any report – design a layout, create a skeleton full of containers, duplicate.

Just to give you an idea of the container nesting and sizing for the second webinar.

And now the best part. Links to the webinars themselves – they’re both available on Billigence’s YouTube channel, and ours and mine Tableau Public (links lead to my profile).

August 2020 Webinar | Why Good Visual Analytics Matters

Here’s a link to the YouTube video and here’s a link to the presentation created in Tableau.

What was it about?

About the design and layout – the size of the canvas is a default presentation size. I used a dark green background (#3D4F52) with very light yellow (#FFFFF0) and bright golden (#FFD58C) for the text and visuals. Layout is very similar to any PowerPoint presentation with a header (‘chapter’, topic) and a footer (author, date). It consists of a container with the dark green background, a container with fully saturated yellow background and outer padding on top (to give you that strip without adding extra blank objects) and similarly created bottom container with a semi-transparent light yellow background. In between is another container for any text boxes, visuals or images used as a body. The ‘boxes’ are simply text boxes with a border and some padding. It’s all in Futura, my favourite typeface.

September 2020 Webinar | Visual Analytics: dashboard designing & principles

Here’s a link to the YouTube video, here to the presentation.

What was it about?

  • Design Thinking Flow
    • Empathise
    • Define
    • Ideate
    • Prototype
    • Test
  • Minimalistic UX/UI Principles & Dashboard Basics
    • Negative space
    • Typeface (fonts)
    • Colour
    • Graphics (images, icons, symbols)
    • Consistency
  • Gestalt Principles
    • Enclosure
    • Similarity
    • Continuity
    • Closure
    • Connection
    • Proximity
    • Symmetry
  • Reading List / Sources

Design and layout of this presentation is also consisting of a set of containers for a header and a footer. Both are separated from the body by a blank object with no padding, a black background, and the height set to 1. Colours in this are bright yellow (#F8DA30) toned down a bit (75%) to not burn the eyes completely, black, and white. My typeface of choice here is Helvetica, used as uppercase for titles and lowercase in other cases. The header and footer have symmetrically used case – on top it’s first row uppercase (title), second row lowercase (subtitle), on bottom it’s first row lowercase (name), second row uppercase (date). It’s a small thing but it made me quite content. Also, padding is my good friend.

Feedback is welcomed either here in the comments or send me a message on LinkedIn. 🙂

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