This years European Tableau Conference is taking place from 17th to 19th June at the Estrel Congress Centre in Berlin, Germany. This is the second combined European conference in recent years and the first combined European Conference held outside of London. Previously there were satellite ‘on tour’ conferences held in major European cities such as Berlin and Paris with a larger event held in London.
It’s hard to believe this will be my 5th non-US Tableau conference! Time really does fly! I still remember my first conference way back in 2015 at The Brewery in London. Since then the Tableau User Community in Europe has grown considerably.
Every year I write a blog post with conference tips. This is a consolidated list of those tips with a few specific additions for the conference this year. Enjoy!
General Conference Tips
- Wear comfortable shoes. You will do a surprising amount of walking over the 2.5 days of conference.
- Bring a battery pack for your phone/tablet. There will be charging stations in the venue but this saves you having to rely on them. Nobody wants a dead battery.
- Register and pick up your badge as early as possible to skip the queues. Registration opens at 7am on Monday this year (but remains open until 7pm and is open all day on Tuesday and until 4:30pm on Wednesday too). If you arrive early you can take the opportunity to familiarise yourself with the venue in advance.
- Upon registering, look out for the sticker/badge station which is usually located nearby. This is where you can pick up some Tableau pin badges to add to your lanyard to indicate which industry you work in (or just how much you LOVE data). This will help you to spot your peers throughout the conference. Also, Tableau often offer country stickers too. Add your country’s flag sticker to your badge and check out everyone else’s. It’s a great conversation starter and it’s always nice to meet people from home.
- Get Social! Follow the hashtag #data19 on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn & join the conversation. Share photos and your key takeaways from the sessions you attend. If you are already active on Twitter, remember to write your Twitter handle on your conference pass. People may recognise you from your social account but may not be 100% sure it’s you. Worst still, they could mistake you for somebody else they follow. This avoids awkward conversations & helps gain new followers.
- On that note, update your social media profile picture in advance of conference to an actual head shot of you (rather than a landscape, dog, viz, logo, etc).
- Conference is a great opportunity to track down that person you’ve been following on Twitter or that person who’s blog has been particularly helpful. Talk to them about what you enjoy about their work or their interests outside of Tableau.
- Introduce people who you think should meet each other. Networking is even better when you share.
- Participate in the live community project hackathon-style sessions (refer to the app for specific dates/times);
- #MakeoverMonday – session hosted by Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray
- #VizForSocialGood – session hosted by Neil Richards and Amanda Patist
- #WorkoutWednesday – session hosted by Lorna Eden and Ann Jackson
- #SportsVizSunday – session hosted by Simon Beaumont, Spencer Baucke & James Smith
- Even if you haven’t participated in these community projects before, an in-person event is the perfect excuse to get started. You’ll be able to connect with fellow participants and even the project leaders themselves. Also, there’s something special about participating in these projects with a room full of like-minded people. They offer a great opportunity to build new friendships, be inspired and improve your skills.
- Visit the Data Village (Expo Hall) & talk to the event sponsors. Take the time to learn about their offering & how it could help your business or your career. Don’t forget to pick up some swag while you’re there too! Note: You might need an extra bag for all your new t-shirts! Also in the Data Village you’ll find the Community area where you can connect with members of the Tableau Community.
- Attend #IronViz! This is one of my favourite conference sessions. For those unfamiliar with the competition, Iron Viz is the ultimate battle of Tableau skills. Three contestants are selected for a grand finale via a visualisation contest (feeder) held through Tableau Public. The contestants then go head-to-head in a 20-minute viz battle in front of a live audience on stage at the Tableau Conference. This years finalists are Anna Dzikowska, Tristan Schoute and Simon Stusak. Attend the session, show them your support and be wowed by their vizzing skills!
- Arrive to the venue early in the mornings. It’s great to catch up with people over breakfast before things get really busy.
- Everyone needs to get a snap at the photobooth with their #DataFam using the data themed speech bubbles. It’s pretty much mandatory! They also make great profile pictures for social media.
- Don’t be afraid to skip a session. Things can get a bit overwhelming if you’re attending sessions back to back. Take some time out to visit the Data Village & network with others.
- On that note, don’t be afraid to leave a session early if it’s not what you expected. However, I would caveat this by saying you should take care when planning your schedule and only pick sessions that you truly want to attend. All sessions will be in high demand so by attending a session you have little interest in could take somebody else’s place. In reality, you shouldn’t need to leave a session early.
- If you are thinking of taking a Tableau certification exam you can sit them at conference at a discounted price. Register for these via the app.
- Don’t miss out on the running and yoga activities! There is normally a large #RunData group who get up early in the morning to hit the pavement, even after Data Night Out! If you’re interested in participating in the morning run the full details are in the app. There’s also the option to take an early-morning yoga class too.
The Tableau Conference App & Session Planning Tips
Download the official conference app here. This is your go-to guide for the conference.
- Move your Tableau Conference app to the first screen on your phone so it’s easy to find once you’re at conference. You’ll need to reference it frequently to figure out where and when your next session is.
- Tableau have introduced a pre-booking system for securing your place in your desired sessions this year. To add a session to your schedule, simply tap the star icon. If a session appears full in the app, don’t panic! Keep checking back in the lead-up to conference; Tableau have advised that they will release more session availability closer to the event and will reserve 15% of seats at every session for stand-by lines on the day. However, it’s always best to have a plan B. Popular sessions will fill up quickly & entry isn’t guaranteed if you haven’t pre-booked (or if you arrive late to non-bookable sessions). If you really want a seat and the session appears full on the app, arrive to the room early! In case you can’t get into session, always have a back-up talk to attend instead. Note, you’ll need to be in your seat at least 5 minutes before your session starts, otherwise your seat will be forfeited.
- How do you begin planning when there are so many sessions to choose from? Rather than getting overwhelmed by the 107 sessions on the conference schedule, browse through the speaker section first to find talks by your favourite speakers.
- Don’t panic if there’s a clash or two. Most sessions are recorded so you can always watch them back later on YouTube. However, plan to maximise those you want to see live, especially if you want to connect with the speakers directly or ask questions at the end.
- Is there somebody in particular you want to meet at the conference? If so, reach out to them via the messaging function available in the app & arrange a time/place to catch up at conference.
- After leaving a session, remember to rate it and leave feedback. Feedback is anonymous and helps Tableau to keep improving conference year after year. Speakers really appreciate honest feedback too. You can leave feedback in the app.
- Look out for repeats of popular sessions or new content added to the schedule last minute (for example, Hyper sessions at #TC17 were not shown until after the keynote).
- Meet the Devs! This is a unique opportunity to meet members of the Tableau Product Team. Learn about the latest functionality from the people who were actually responsible for building it or provide them with feedback or suggestions for future developments. This year there are dedicated sessions where the Developers will be demonstrating key features and concepts. Check the app for the full details.
- Book your time with the Tableau Doctor to get an expert’s opinion on all you ailments. You can schedule 45-minute appointments with the Tableau Doctor via the conference app. You never know who might help you; Francois Ajenstat (Tableau’s Chief Product Officer) has been known to cover Tableau Doctor surgeries in the past.
- Attend a ‘Micro Meet’ session. These are a new session format described by Tableau as “birds of a feather” style meet-ups and offer a unique opportunity to connect with people from similar industries or working in similar positions from across Europe or beyond. Check the app for more details on these soon.
- Attend a meet-up group. These are often run by groups who meet regularly outside of conference. This year the meet-ups include (check the app for session scheduling details):
- #DataPlusWomen – Join this session to meet and mingle with peers, hear stories with inspirational individuals, and make lasting connections. This event gives you the unique opportunity to start the conference with new professional contacts that can positively impact the rest of your conference experience. Everyone is welcome at this session (it’s not only for women).
- IT Tableau User Group (perfect for those responsible for Tableau Server), hosted by Tableau Server Guru’s Mark Kernke and Paul Banoub
- Berlin Tableau User Group #BerlinTUG — Hosted by Ingo Levin and featuring a Tableau Ambassador panel-style interview with Simon Beaumont, Lorna Eden and myself.
- Healthcare Meetup — Hosted by Simon Beaumont, leader of the UK Healthcare TUG.
- Visit the Tableau Public Viz Gallery. There will be a selection of Tableau Public vizzes printed and displayed in true art gallery style. This is not to be missed!
That’s quite a long list of tips! I hope you find them useful. Feel free to add you own tips in the comments section below.
This year I have the honour of presenting at two conference sessions. You can find me on Tuesday presenting “The A-Z of the Tableau Community” at 12:00pm in the Storypoints Theatre. This is a short 20-minute lightening talk that covers everything the Tableau Community has to offer and key details on how you can get involved.
I’ll also be taking part in the “Tableau Ambassadors | The Rock Stars of the Tableau Community” session on Wednesday at 17:00. Join me and fellow Tableau Ambassadors, Lorna and Simon to learn more about the Tableau Ambassador program, how we became ambassadors and our motivations.
You can find out more about Tableau Conference Europe here.
See you on 17th June!
Thanks for reading.