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Telling a Story with Data

By Jessica Slyter posted Jan 10, 2019 01:52 PM


Story by Maggie Sparkman, senior content developer at Microsoft

The Power BI World Tour made a stop in Seattle, Washington from October 29 - 30, 2018 to provide unprecedented Power BI content and DeNisha Malone’s session, “Telling a Story with Data”, was an excellent example of this…

Lessons from DeNisha’s session:

Tell a story

Reports can’t just be a bunch of numbers, or even beautiful visuals. You need to find the story the data is trying to tell, and then make it clear. Keep it simple. A few clear visualizations are more powerful than a whole bunch of them all over the place.

Find free data

There are lots of free data sources out there! At all the different levels of government – country, state, county, city – lots of agencies publish their data. Many non-profit organizations also make their data available for free, and they’re happy to have you use it.

Gather your customers’ requirements

DeNisha stresses the importance of the story, and the importance of giving report readers what they ask for. Before creating a report, before even collecting the data, she completes a checklist with customers, in which they tell her what they want the report to tell them. She looks for the data that will answer their questions, and then she designs the report. As she adds each element to the report, she goes back to her checklist to make sure she’s answering the questions they had, and checks them off.

Keep track of sources

Another best practice DeNisha demoed: Keep track of where you get all the data you use in a report. Create a resource table with names and links to the data. Then create a page in the report just for the resource table. That way, customers can go back to the source and dig deeper, or verify what they’re seeing.

Keep your eye on the queen

Denisha’s twitter handle is @thepowerbiqueen, so you can tell she’s aiming high. Follow her on Twitter to see how her own story develops.

Over 2,000 Power BI enthusiasts have taken part in the Power BI World Tour event series around the globe since 2016. The 2019 tour will feature technical content, curated by your local user group community, for users of all Power platform tools in various roles such as Analysts, Developers, IT Admins, and New Professionals. 


In addition to providing premium Power BI educational content, 2019 will feature expanded course offerings to include PowerApps and Microsoft Flow.


The first 5 cities of the tour are scheduled for Tampa, FL (January 21-22), Sunnyvale, CA (February 19-20), Chicago, IL (April 9-10), London, UK (28-29 August) and Copenhagen, DK (11-12 September) Find an event in your area and register today!


Do you have a suggestion for another World Tour location? We’d love to hear it. Submit your thoughts here.