The Data School not only trains us in Tableau and Alteryx, but also give us a chance to develop other skills like presenting, writing and working with clients. In addition to this, in the last month of our DS time ahead of our placements we shadow a member of the ‘Core’ Info Lab team. This week I shadowed Andre when he taught Tableau to a client: the Tableau Essentials course. The day really really fun and I even got to teach a part of it!

It was really interesting to see what a day in the life of a data consultant was like, as well as talking to people about the applications for Tableau and Alteryx within an actual business and not just hypothetical examples. Seeing people at the start of their anTableau journey and the differing levels of Tableau experience and interest in data in the room was also a great experience.

They day was really useful and I felt like I learnt a lot from it so thought I would put some ‘top tips’ about training sessions in a blog!


1)  Licences and log ins

For programs like Tableau and Alteryx users need licenses to access the software. The client’s IT department should have sorted these but it’s a good thing to check before the session gets started.

It’s also useful to have logins to hand as this saves time in the training day. These can include things like licenses, but also temporary training logs ins to server sites or even just the wifi password! Anything to help the session run smoothly.


2) Session Materials

Unsurprisingly, when learning a data analysis software, data is needed! This can potentially be sent ahead of time via a fileshare for attendees to download before the session, but it’s good to check that they’ve successfully downloaded the various data and workbooks needed at the start of the session.

This is also a great way to share resources after the session – like the training PowerPoint or solutions workbooks/ workflows.


3) All the gear

When using a conference room or training space that you’re not familiar with, there could be multiple ways to connect your laptop to the projector/ screens. Therefore, there’s a few things you can do to help this. Of course, turn up early – as this then helps if you need the office team or IT department to come in and help you connect.

But also, ensure you bring all the gear you need – i.e. all the cables. This includes HDMI cables, adaptors, chargers, extra length cables, etc. This is especially true is you have a more specialised laptop like an Apple Mac or smaller Dell.

Also good to have to hand is paper, pens and dry-wipe markers. These come in handy if you need to sketch out things like the Tableau network or write down specific file types. You can’t rely on the room you’re using to have these things so it’s best to bring them yourself.


4) Preparation and Pace

As I mentioned, I got a chance to teach a part of the session. I taught chart types that aren’t standard tables or bar charts. Andre had pre-warned me about this so I had prepared a version of the workbook with notes for what I had to create, as well as reminding myself I could make all these chart types!  Although, Andre tested me by getting me to create a Tree Map without using Show Me – but luckily I manged it.

I think for my first training session it went okay, and I managed to keep the pace slow enough, but as Andre said –

‘if you think you’re going slow enough then slow down’

This is great advice because those being trained are not used to the product and so, for a first session at least, you can never be too slow going through things.


5) Describe and explain

When demo-ing the various charts I remembered a few tips that Eva gave in her Bright Talk Webinar: describe every single move you’re doing as you do it. This is essential for those following along as the trainees are definitely not as familiar with the software as you are! Go slowly and scribe what your mouse is clicking on, and where you’re dragging things from/ to.

Also explain why you’re doing what you’re doing – as this helps reinforces them. Something else that’s helpful is giving use cases for specific types of charts. For example, a dual axis chart is great for comparing measures with different scales like Sales (£) and Discount (%). Whereas, a multi-measure axis (put another measure on top of an axis until a green-ruler comes up) is great for comparing two measures which have the same scale, like Sales (£) and Profit (£).


6) Remember they are only human!

At the end of the day, the trainees are only human. If you accidentally drag a field to the wrong place or put the wrong measure onto the view then it’s okay! They also make mistakes and another tip is to give tips that helped you along the way. For example, the ‘Ctrl – Z’ , the undo button, or the clear chart are one of the most used features of Tableau! Or, if in doubt, right click on a field, or part of the chart and a menu will pop up and will probably solve your problem! Passing these on helps with the software experience.


So hopefully these pointers will help if you have to give a training session, and remember: go slow and have fun!