Data Visualization Workshops Half-Day, Full-Day, or Multi-Day

Data Visualization Workshops

Have you ever emailed a report to a client and wondered whether they even read about the results? Have you tried sharing results during in-person meetings only to watch their eyes glaze over? If so, this workshop is for you. As data becomes easier and cheaper to collect, the sheer volume of information available to us (and to our clients) can become overwhelming. Visualizing data through charts, graphs, and diagrams is one strategy for delivering bite-sized information that stakeholders can understand at a glance and retain for the long run.

During these workshops, we discuss how to select appropriate chart types; emphasize key findings with color; and take the guesswork out of your graphs through titles, subtitles, and annotations. We focus on researcher-specific considerations: designing with stakeholders’ information needs front and center, using readily available software like Microsoft Excel, and thinking through a dozen chart types—dot plots, small multiples, heat maps, and more—that can be applied to the social sciences. We conclude with strategies for sharing visualizations through videos, handouts, slidedocs, social media, and dashboards. Attendees leave with the critical thinking skills and technical prowess needed to create visualizations faster and easier than they ever thought was possible.



After the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Describe recent trends in data visualization;
  • Practice exploring preliminary patterns by sketching charts by hand and via spark lines and conditional formatting in Excel;
  • Weigh the pros and cons of presenting data through various chart types (e.g., clustered bar charts versus dot plots);
  • Reduce chart clutter by adjusting borders, grid lines, and tick marks;
  • Emphasize key findings with color;
  • Write titles, subtitles, and annotations that summarize desired takeaway messages;
  • Review drafts with the aid of the Data Visualization Checklist as a conversation tool;
  • Identify which communications mode(s) are best for sharing charts (e.g., reports, handouts, presentations, etc.);
  • Design charts in Excel; and
  • Present their completed charts to the larger group.


Target Audience

Anyone with an interest in presenting information more effectively through charts, graphs, tables, and diagrams. No computer programming experience or graphic design skills needed.


Sample Agenda

I teach half-day, full-day, and multi-day workshops.

Typical agenda for half-day workshops:

  • Introduction to Data Visualization
    • Skills Needed (e.g., interdisciplinary mixture of graphic design and statistics)
    • Key Players
    • Trends in the Field
    • Predictions for the Future of the Field
  • Step 1: Who’s My Audience?
    • Information needs, numeracy level, prior experience, time and interest
    • Small group discussions
  • Step 2: How Will I Share My Charts?
    • Reports, executive summaries, presentations, handouts, dashboards, infographics, and more
    • Small group discussions
  • Step 3: Which Chart is Best for My Data?
    • Exploring preliminary patterns with spark lines and conditional formatting
    • Chart-choosing tools
    • Overview of 30+ essential charts for quantitative and qualitative data
    • Sketching possible charts
  • Step 4: Which Tool is Best?
    • Pros and cons of Excel, Tableau, and R
  • Step 5: Which Formatting Edits Are Needed?
    • Removing clutter: Borders, grid lines, tick marks (demo followed by hands-on practice)
    • Telling a story with text: Titles, subtitles, annotations (demo followed by hands-on practice)
    • Effective labeling: Directing labeling, using labels sparingly (demo followed by hands-on practice)
    • Color: Selecting custom color palettes, highlighting key findings, black/white printing, colorblindness considerations (demo followed by hands-on practice)

Typical agenda for full-day and multi-day workshops:

  • Everything from the half-day agenda (plus additional examples and longer hands-on components)
  • Advanced Chart Construction: Building and formatting charts from start to finish
    • Small multiples bar charts
    • Diverging stacked bar charts
    • Slope charts
    • Small multiples line charts
    • Dot plots
    • Others based on time and interest
  • Individual Work Time and Consultations: Participants are invited to bring their own datasets and work individually while the instructor circulates and offers customized feedback on their projects.



We can use one of my sample datasets or apply the skills to your organization’s data. Sample datasets include:

  • Census data with county-level population trends for DC, Maryland, and Virginia (e.g., number of males and females, breakdown by age categories).
  • Alumni donations to a university (e.g., number of donors and donation amount by graduation year).
  • Professional society membership patterns (imaginary individual-level dataset including demographic fields such as birthdate, address, gender, and race/ethnicity).
  • Responses to an end-of-program satisfaction survey (a dozen closed-ended opinion questions on an agree/disagree scale plus several open-ended questions).


What People Are Saying

“This was by far the best professional development opportunity I’ve had in the last 3 years. Thanks so much for the hands-on learning opportunities. I left this workshop feeling that I could immediately implement what I learned, which is rare!”“This was the best workshop we’ve ever had at our organization.”

“Ann did an amazing job. She was engaging and an excellent facilitator. This workshop has inspired a lot of confidence in my ability to visualize data and I would be interested in seeing what Ann would have planned for an intermediate or more advanced workshop on this topic.”

“I came into the workshop thinking I already had a good foundation in data visualization but it turns out I still had lots to learn! Thanks for the great tips and for so expertly walking us through the new charts you introduced.”

“Really excellent and a totally worthwhile investment of time. Ann’s humor, adaptability to her audience, vast knowledge, creativity and hands-on approach made this one of the best workhops I’ve ever attended.”

“I really liked having everyone working from the same Excel doc prepared ahead of time so you have all the lessons there after the training. I’ve seen it done so poorly in other trainings where everyone is working from different sets of data and it makes learning anything tangible impossible.”

“One of the most useful things I came away with was to sketch out my options before putting anything into Excel. I had never done that before and it was really helpful to stop and really think about the best way to present the data and having a rough design in mind.”

“Overall I had no idea how to manipulate stacked charts in excel and do lots of things I had previously done in R. This makes things much simpler for my workflow since I often want others to continue updating charts but they don’t have R experience.”

“The pace of the workshop was exactly what I hoped for. You provided just the right amount of lecture-style content, great visuals, and then the hands-on practice that we all need to help us retain all the information you provided. Thank you!!”“The Excel tutorials were (and will continue to be) fantastic. I love that you have a prepared workbook for attendees to practice with. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ structure is fantastic as well. Also, the links/resources you listed throughout the session were great.”

“This was really wonderful. Please bring Ann back ASAP for a full day (or even 2 day!) workshop. We need it!”

“Just a short note to simply say ‘thank you’ for doing what you do so well! I became acquainted with your work when I attended a workshop last year that you did at the California Wellness Foundation’s grantee conference in LA. Ever since then I have used many of your great resources on your blog as well as attended at least one webinar to improve my dataviz skill set. I am most excited about attending Technology for Data Visualization in June!”

“I just wanted to let you know how pleased I was with staff response from today’s training. Thank you so much. We are very excited to apply everything we’ve learned. I will, for sure, send you before and after reports. We’ll be in touch.”

“I wanted to thank you for the training. It was very helpful for my staff and we have heard nothing but positive remarks about you and the content.”

“I wanted to thank you again for coming sharing your knowledge and resources with our evaluation and ‘data-interested’ community. You are so very generous with your resources and I feel confident that the participants benefited greatly from your ideas and techniques.”

“I want to say thank you for the wonderful workshop you gave in Indy last week. There were so many helpful techniques that I can’t wait to share with my colleagues.”


About the Instructor

emery_ann_nov-2014 (2)

Ann K. Emery, M.S. is an independent consultant who specializes in data analysis and visualization. She is Co-Chair of the American Evaluation Association’s (AEA) Data Visualization and Reporting Topical Interest Group, Secretary for the Washington Evaluators, Advisory Board Member for AEA’s Potent Presentations Initiative, member of the Nonprofit Technology Network’s Research Committee, and a past conference planner for the Eastern Evaluation Research Society. She has taught workshops about data analysis, data visualization, and dashboards for dozens of nonprofits, foundations, and professional societies, and co-authored the Data Visualization Checklist.


Learn More

Please contact me to discuss your desired customizations and my availability.


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