Bookmarks, brain pixels, and bar charts: creating effective Power BI reports

Pre-Con Description

Creating a Power BI report is an interdisciplinary activity. It lies at the intersection of data analysis, cognitive science, graphic design, communication, and user experience design. To be successful, we need to approach it holistically, rather than see it as “just a data thing”.

In this all-day session, we’ll cover Power BI features, techniques for building reports, visual design concepts, and the basics of human perception. You’ll learn how to choose an appropriate visual for the message you want to communicate and how to optimize that visual for human consumption. Then we’ll cover how to arrange multiple visuals in a report to create a coherent message or story.

We’ll start out with basic steps to build a visual in Power BI, and then build that into a full report, covering the formatting options available. And we’ll also discuss how humans take in and remember information, and how to enhance our visual design to account for that. You’ll learn how cognitive load, preattentive attributes, and Gestalt principles apply to data visualization. We’ll also discuss the concepts of storytelling and storyforming with data and explore specific techniques to implement them in Power BI.

You’ll leave the session with an understanding of how to define success in data visualization, how humans consume visual information and interact with reports, and how to create a report to both communicate and stimulate viewer engagement. You will also receive a list of tools and resources to take with you and use in your future report design endeavors.


Basic familiarity with Power BI Desktop is helpful for attendees. If you know how to add a visual to a report page, populate it with data, and change some formatting, that’s good enough. Everyone from beginners to experts is welcome. We’ll learn and practice good report design together and help each other to improve our knowledge and skills. Bring a laptop to participate in the fun!

Attend This Session

SQLSaturday Austin – BI pre-con on February 7, 2020

SQLSaturday Chicago pre-con on March 20, 2020