Behind the Viz: Pris Lam on creating data visualizations for the everyday person

Get to know your fellow Tableau Public authors with Behind the Viz, a blog series where we explore the people and processes behind our featured vizzes.

Meet Pris Lam! Pris is part of The Data School Down Under where she works as a data analytics consultant in Tableau and Alteryx. With a background in operations and Millennial/Gen Z leadership development, Pris enjoys sparking "aha" moments through engaging storytelling and impactful visualizations. Whether it be a blog post, presentation, or a dashboard, Pris’s goal is for her audience to walk away with vivid emotions, actionable ideas, or burning curiosity.

Explore her Tableau Public profile and you’ll agree: Pris’s vizzes spark plenty of “aha” moments! She approaches each visualization with the viewer in mind, helping them to engage, interact, and learn. For example, consider her recent visualization about the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Pris does more than visualize the age or batting average of the inductees. Instead, she transforms the data into a universal story, using the inductees to teach us lessons about perseverance and success.

Her viz is relevant to anyone— even those who couldn’t tell the difference between Babe Ruth and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. So it's no surprise that after her visualization was selected as Viz of the Day, Pris received lots of kudos on Twitter. Here's just one response:

Pris has a knack for telling stories that strike a chord with viewers. So we asked Pris what influences her storytelling and why she chose such a unique approach to a baseball data set. Read on for her answers!

Let's take a look behind the viz!

How long have you been using Tableau Public?

I've been using Tableau Public since July 2018.

Why did you choose this topic?

I am currently enrolled and working at The Data School Down Under. Towards the end of our initial four months of training, we undergo “Dashboard Week.” During this week, we create one dashboard a day using assigned data sets. On one day, we were tasked with creating a dashboard using the March 2019 #SportsVizSunday data sets. These data sets were centered around Major League Baseball (MLB). I didn't know very much about the sport itself because we don't play baseball much here in Australia! So instead, I decided to focus on the MLB Hall of Fame data set.

Before my work in data, I worked as a leadership development facilitator and trainer. I learned that people respond best to stories that related to them on a personal level— this is no different when telling stories with data! So I saw this topic as a chance to combine my storytelling and data analysis skills to conjure a powerful narrative about life. After all, not everyone knows sports or MLB but everyone can relate to failure, resilience, hope, and success!

What was the hardest decision you made when creating this viz?

Given how rich the data sets were, there were many different directions I could have taken this viz. I had various ideas and insights, but “Dashboard Week” challenges us to only spend one day on each viz. Therefore, one of the biggest challenges was to deliver on a dashboard that could not only spark curiosity, tell a powerful story, and educate my audience, but also be simple enough to complete within a day.

I kept focused by keeping my intended audience in mind— the everyday person. I made conscious decisions throughout the process based on my audience; I took out charts that strayed from my key message, reworded my texts to be more layman-friendly, and highlighted different trends, patterns, and outliers.

What is your favorite new Tableau trick? How can others use it?

No matter what you’re visualizing, you can use the Visual Vocabulary from Andy Kriebel, Head Coach of The Data School UK. Andy’s Visual Vocabulary is an amazing reference guide for identifying which chart would work best for your visualization and links to respective tutorials. “Favorite” this viz on Tableau Public so you always have it in your back pocket!

What is the best music to listen to while vizzing?

Jazz music! My favorite is the “Chill Jazz” Spotify playlist.

Tableau Public author Pris Lam

As a regular participant in #MakeoverMonday and an active Tableau Public vizzer, Pris is on track to make even more inspiring vizzes. Be sure to follow her on Tableau Public for her next great story!