Imagine you have just finished a new Tableau dashboard. It is well laid out, tells a good story, and has the potential to help your audience find important insights. The only problem is that you have no idea how you are going to present it.

Sound familiar? If so, this is the blog for you.

Below you will find a tried and tested framework for presenting and demonstrating new dashboards.


A Three Step Formula For Effective Presentations

Like most good stories, a good presentation has three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. Another way to think of this is: exposition, climax, resolution.

Think about the classic Grimm’s fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood:

  • The beginning (or exposition): Little Red Riding Hood is going on a walk to visit her grandmother. Despite being told not to talk to strangers, she meets and wolf and tells him where she is going.
  • The middle (or climax): She reaches her grandmother’s house to find they have been eaten by a wolf. The wolf then eats Little Red, but thankfully she and her grandmother are rescued by a lumberjack who cuts the wolf open.
  • The end (or resolution): Little Red is safe, but has learned an important lesson about not talking to strangers.

So how can you use these three steps to guide your dashboard presentations? This is how you can leverage this formula to make your dashboard presentations a success.


Beginning OR “Here’s What I’m Going To Show You”

Your first instinct may be to dive in and start showing off the different components of your dashboard.

But remember, most of your audience will still need some time to process what they’re looking at – and changing too much too soon may confuse them.

Instead, take a moment to give your audience some context for the presentation.

  • What topic are you going to be talking about today?
  • What problem does your dashboard seek to address?
  • Where was the data sourced from?

Explaining these points provides important context around your dashboard, helping prime them to understand what you’re about to show them.


Middle OR “Here’s What I’m Showing You”

Now your audience is ready, it is time to demonstrate what you have built. A useful framework for this step is the inverted pyramid structure used by journalists when writing news articles.

The inverted pyramid breaks reportage down to three parts: (1) an opening paragraph that contain the most important details; (2) a set of subsequent paragraphs that provide explanatory details, like quotes and supporting figures; (3) a final paragraph or two that provide general background details. So, how can we use this to guide your demonstrations?

Most important details: Start by giving an overview of the dashboard. What does each chart represent? What are your key findings? What do those BANs mean? How do they relate to each other?

Explanatory details: Next, it is time to show your audience how your dashboard works. Break down your key findings into 2-3 examples and use your dashboard to demonstrate the steps you have taken to find them. Click through each part of your dashboard and show how it works – it can help to write these steps down before you start and use them to guide you through the demonstration.

General background details: Now you have demonstrated your dashboard, give time for any additional details – such as further applications, or limitations.


End OR “Here’s what I’ve shown you”

Now you have finished your demonstration, it is time to bring everything together with a solid conclusion – an important step that will cement your dashboard in the mind of your audience.

This step is all about summarising the presentation – taking a moment to re-iterate the topic your dashboard has addressed, your key findings, and how it can be used to find fresh insights.

Repeating this information again will help your audience recall it more clearly in the future, and gives you a chance to emphasise any key points that may have been overlooked.


Go Forth And Present!

This blog has been about the frameworks used for effective dashboard presentations.

We have looked at two key frameworks:

  • Overall presentations: (1) context, (2) action, (3) resolution.
  • Dashboard demonstrations: (1) most important details, (2) explanatory details, (3) background details.

These frameworks are tried and tested and can be used again and again to help you present different dashboards to a range of audiences.


Read More

Want more tips on improving your presentations? The Data School Down Under blog is a treasure trove of tips and tricks. Here are some useful links where you can read more advice from other Data School consultants.


Kieran Adair
Author: Kieran Adair