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5 Quick Tips to Deliver a Decision-aiding Tableau Story

Tableau’s interactive dashboards are great tools for scrutinizing mountains of data, and uncovering hidden insights.  However, when you want to communicate your findings to an audience, showing them a series of visualizations in a sequence can help them quickly understand the your data story.

A Tableau story is a series of visualizations that are combined in a sequence in order to convey a message.  Each individual sheet within the story is called a story point.

In order to maximize the impact of your story we suggest that you follow these five tips for creating better stories –

  1. Understand your data and plan your story 

    Creating a compelling story that leads the audience into insight and understanding requires careful thought and planning, and not just the piecing together different of different charts and analyses.

    Spend some time getting acquainted with your data and understand the message you want to convey.  What is the point of your story? Is it a call to action, is it a simple narrative, or are you presenting a case?  If you are presenting a case, do you want to start with or end with your conclusion?

    Plan out your story to allow for logical flow. Use Post It notes to identify the different story points.  They can then be easily moved around when planning the sequence of your story points.

    Data-Story-SequenceUse wording on the story point navigator to pose questions or highlight the conclusion from each story point to the user. Tableau has identified 7 different ways of delivering a data story. Maximize the impact of your story by identifying the one that best fits your message.


  2. Understand your audience 

    Make sure that you include the details in the story points at the appropriate level for your audience.  How acquainted are they with the data and subject matter?

  3. Consider using dashboards rather than worksheets in your story points 

    Dashboards allow for more formatting. You can also combine multiple views in a single dashboard which can then maximize your message within the story point.

  4. Keep the story points clear and uncluttered using dashboard best practices 

    The best practices for dashboards also apply to stories.


    Figure 1: Before

    • Less is more If grid-lines, axes, filters are not necessary, then remove them. This will allow the audience to focus more on your narrative. Figure 1 has unnecessary Country information and axis data. Figure 2 below has more space devoted to the chart without any loss of detail.


      Figure 2: After

    • Use colors appropriately If a color doesn’t convey a message, then it is probably not required.   The colors in figure 1 above add no insight into the data. In figure 2 they are used to give insight into life expectancy per country.

    • Make sure that the colors and formatting used are consistent across story points to further assist the audience in making the necessary connections and insights.

    • If you have multiple charts in a story point, use a grid layout A grid format allows your audience to navigate their way through the page in a logical way.

    • Have a clear font size hierarchy for your headings and titles.

    • Make your most important facts and KPIs easy to identify by making them larger or in a different color.

  5. Optimize your performance 

    Your audience does not want to be waiting for your story point to load.  Where possible, implement best practices to optimize performance.

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