Tableau Community Initiative Deep Dive: VizConnect

A weekly blog about the ‘data viz’-making process, #datafam / data analytics member interviews, & entertainment for introverts (consisting of a music morsel & a binge bite).

This is the 1st in a series of Initiative Deep Dives. Although this blog covered some past initiatives focusing on the interviewing form, these articles will focus go further into the initiative to help details its impact and flavor (1).

Mico’s Scoop on VizConnect

In May 2019, VizConnect began with Sagar Kapoor (Customer Success Manager at Tableau) and Divya Bharathi (Tableau Social Ambassador).

Before the pandemic pummeled us globally, VizConnect worked as a platform for Tableau Zen Masters, Ambassadors, and Community Stars to share knowledge virtually while having a friendly, supportive, and engaged audience. That year, it focused on being a YouTube channel as its team was limited to its founders while people can register and participate in the presentation using chat and Q&A functions of WebEx.

Jump to 2020, I had the chance to present on community resources. I was not yet an ambassador and to be asked to present for the channel was humbling. Since the community is what lifted me and much of what was shared was more ‘tool talk’, my focus was on free resources for people unaware of the community. Unlike other tech tools, we have such a passionate community devoted to sharing professional-grade resources, best practices, and tutorials for free. The presentation was at 5 PM IST or 6:30 AM my time, but the thrill of people live and knowing it would be added on YouTube for posterity was (almost) all of the fuel coffee provides at that hour.

What struck me immediately was how supportive and calm Sagar was as he made sure the tech specs were met. There wasn’t anything that impacted my anxiety as before Tableau, I loathed presenting. The difference is here (and most Tableau-related presentation opportunities) is that the community drapes you with warmness and boosts you with their shared enthusiasm for your topic. It’s unlike a situation where you are presenting for work or for an audience you feel may not be warm. After the session, I noticed notifications blasted saying kind things about the presentation on Twitter and LinkedIn — and more followers and connection requests on LinkedIn.

A few days later, he asked me to collab to help update his excellent Tableau Learning Path viz which breaks down the free resources in a simplified template (which can be downloaded and simply modified).

In the couple months that passed some of the impacts of CoVID were beginning to become known globally, work became more complex, and I was just tired and needed a break for a bit to recalibrate (as many did during this period). As I was itching to return, Sagar and Divya invited me to be part of their VizConnect team. They wanted to extend its reach and also push toward more of a free communal learning platform, which has a comfy spot on Tableau’s site:

From that more branches began to form from the VizConnect oeuvre. Aloysius began creating amazing LinkedIn blogs for each presentation that remarkably covers each session. We began sharing inspiring data/Tableau journeys of Tableau Public Featured Authors every cohort (which I’m honored to be the primary host). We developed a LinkedIn community page amassing more than 1,800 members while the primary YouTube page has exceeded 2,000 subscribers. Even when there are so many pieces of incredible content shared by Tableau from the Tableau Conferences and many virtual user groups, VizConnect continues to carve its space in part due to its consistency and focus of ‘all killer, no filler’ community content from such a wide array of talents. I’m excited about our 2021 progression.

The impact it has had on me is significant. Besides giving me one of my 1st recognized Tableau community initiative to assist in a leadership capacity, I see how many people have learned and get excited about their sessions. I see the excitement of presenters as they get to share their passion and have a spot to share their presentation with their colleagues, family, friends, and our community. Besides that, seeing its growth 1st hand and commitment to community members sharing knowledge from the untitled like I was to Zen Masters and even data celebrities like Alberto Cairo. With so much emerging talent on the scene, I can’t wait to be further inspired by their stories and work.

The Impact of VizConnect on Our Active Team

Sagar Kapoor (co-founder)

VizConnect has been a game-changer for me personally from inspiring, motivating, and connecting everyone in the community.

The ah-ha moment for me was the amazing feedback is when people starting sharing how impactful a session was in their life. I feel our mission has just got begun and we have a long way to go to connect (2) everyone with the art of data visualization and storytelling powered by Tableau.

Aloysius Ong

I still remember the first time I watched a #VizConnect session. It was in April 2020. I had just started creating data visualizations in Tableau with #MakeoverMonday datasets. The first session I watched had Judit Bekker as the speaker. She spoke about using Adobe Illustrator with Tableau to create more visually appealing data visualizations and I got so excited about the possibilities. I started to tune into #VizConnect every week. Because of my #dailycoding challenge, I started to note down key points that I learned from the session. It was not long before Sagar Kapoor approached me and invited me to be a part of the team to summarize these sessions. It was because of this which allowed me to connect more with the community. Back then, I did not know about the Twitter #datafam and did not post my data visualizations on the platform. I also did not have a Tableau Public profile because of some issues. Some months later, I became a Tableau Public Featured Author in 2020 and got my first #VOTD. Without #VizConnect, I wouldn’t have been more involved in the community. #VizConnect has allowed me to learn so many new things about data visualizations in Tableau. Without #VizConnect, I would not have the knowledge that I have today. Thank you #VizConnect and the team!

Vinodh Kumar V R

A platform that is overflowing with knowledge. It brings some great minds across the world to your home and all in one place. There is something for the beginner and there is something for the experts, everyone gets to learn something looking at the various sessions. It encourages everyone in the community to share their knowledge thus enabling the community to grow along. It also keeps the datafam at its core and helps people stay connected and updated.

Tarun Deep Chhabra

I have 4 years of experience working with Tableau but most of my best work was from the community and was done for my stakeholders in the office. Last year, due to the pandemic situation, I connected more with the community and discovered a lot of stuff related to Tableau — a primary hub was VizConnect. VizConnect has actually changed my life. I learned a lot from so many influential people from this community. There are actually many specialties in these sessions where there is a focused topic which the presenter talks about and that particular topic is discussed with each and great detail. I usually try to learn the process that they follow to come up with the idea and/or visualization. Which actually helped me gain more knowledge about Tableau and tricks which I use while creating public and professional visualizations. Using VizConnect sessions, I was able to create some great visualizations which were loved by my stakeholders and I loved creating those by following steps shared in these sessions. I am very grateful to be part of the VizConnect team and kudos to VizConnect leaders who are organizing this session every week.

Sagar Kapoor (co-founder)

VizConnect has been a Game changer for me personally from inspiring, motivating, and connecting everyone in the community.

The aah moment for me the feedbacks we are getting on making an impact in someone’s life through our session. I feel our mission has just got started and a long way to connect everyone with the art of data visualization and storytelling powered by Tableau. (3)

Just a quick clip of some of the great community mentions.

Mico’s VizConnect Presentation Quick Tips

If one of us chats you up to be present for VizConnect, you are truly in great hands. Here are some tips that will help you have a great VizConnect presentation:

  • Watch at least one VizConnect session of a topic or person of interest for inspiration. If you are new to presenting, know many people who participate who haven’t participated a lot in public speaking and just as nervous as you would be. The key is next.
  • Find a data visualization or Tableau topic you are excited about. That excitement tends to override nerves especially when you are prepared
  • Create a lesson plan and rehearse with it. I generally begin with a PowerPoint presentation, add quick notes to the bottom of it, and then create a table in Word, transfer a 150-pixel image on column one and clean up the presentation notes in the row next to that image. Here is a quick look at one I did way back in December 2019 for the UK Virtual TUG (most people should use less specific notes, however):
  • Be comfortable with your material. Do not try to try to reinvent the wheel for your presentation. Feeling at-home with your presentation information will only help your comfort level. Is there anything more frustrating than being called on when you don’t have the answer and no place to look it up? Knowing your material makes you its expert. It’s okay if you cannot answer questions not related to your material, but knowing your material, researching as needed, or being its creator provides a strong sense of freedom, confidence, and calm.
  • VizConnect uses WebEx. It’s my favorite virtual presentation platform. For those unfamiliar and want to get familiar with its use, here’s a quality YouTube tutorial.

Find VizConnect

VizConnect Active Team

Binge Bite

“I Am Not Your Negro” is a must-watch documentary especially for those that don’t quite get social injustice impacts or didn’t know how bad it was and in some sense still is. It’s streaming on Netflix.

Music Morsel

Sometimes The Chemical Brothers can do more than just toxify a tune, their brand of in your face electronic wallop can give an incredibly spacy track some punch. Give this a listen and then jump into Spiritualized’s epic LP, “Amazing Grace” (full playlist).

Mico’s Footnotes

1) Currently waiting on a food delivery, so there may be more related references.

2) Take a shot if you had Sagar mentioning connect separately in his part. 😃

3) To follow VizConnect ‘live’ community feed on Twitter, check out this link.

4) Divya didn’t have an opportunity to contribute to the blog this time, but is a very integral teammate.

#DataVizThoughts Editing Team

Adam Mico

Twitter | LinkedIn | Tableau Public

Priya Padham

Twitter | LinkedIn | Tableau Public

Keyrus US’ Tableau Evangelist and Tableau Ambassador | Data Leadership Collaborative Advisory Board Member. | Views are my own | Co-Editor: Priya Padham