Demo Warriors: Power Query and Power BI best practices

This is a series of articles about people like me who deliver demos, conduct workshops and speak at keynotes.

I will share what I have learnt about delivering high-impact demos


Estimated reading time 7 min.

Best Practices for delivering
Power BI demos

If you conduct lot of sessions and training programs around Power Query and Power BI, here are some things which will help.

  1. Previous night: Apply Windows update and Power BI tool updates
  2. Windows Update should be checked just before the demo as well
  3. It is a good idea to restart Excel just before the demo.
  4. Check internet connectivity. At least 1 MBPS stable connection is a must.
  5. Keep a sample file with countries names in one column and amount in another
    Just before the demo, create a Power View and choose the Map option to check the Silverlight installation as well as connectivity issues. Do the same thing with Power Map to check if the countries are rendered.
  6. If you are using Power Query check the data source connectivity and the practical download speed you are getting
  7. Keep an offline copy of the same data ready, in case connectivity fails
  8. Also keep a backup presentations with important screen shots in case the whole demo fails. If you show rapid visualizations – especially maps – in rapid succession, Excel may hang and needs a restart. I have noticed this problem when I used 2D map first followed by 3D map of the same data.
  9. Power Map has an option (File – Option) to control the resolution of the map shown. Choose the highest resolution as the first step – before you do any further data mapping.
  10. A visual, 3D tour with multiple scenes is a very impressive feature of Power Map. If it does not work, the most impressive demo fails. Be prepared by creating a tour BEFORE the session starts and convert it to a high resolution MP4.
  11. Ensure that while creating the video file from Power Map, you have very good bandwidth – otherwise the video has results in jerky movement while panning across the globe.
  12. Start rendering the video, let it continue for a while and then abort it. Now start rendering it again. Even with very good bandwidth, I have found the second render to be smoother than the first one.
  13. Always keep a backup connectivity option if you are going to touch any internet based data sources and use Mapping features.
  14. Power Map add-in needs to be activated manually in some cases. Therefore, before a Power Map demo, it is a good idea to restart Excel, enable the add-in and continue with the demo.
  15. If you are showing the “Online Query” feature of Power Query and comparing it with a regular browser search, make sure that the search results are shown in both places.
    Remember that the output of Power Query – Online Query is NOT the same of regular Bing search. Online Query only provides pre-selected subset of internet sources.
  16. Use Zoom to highlight important aspects of visualizations and the process involved
    Read all about Zoom in this series of articles: Knowledge Pack: High Impact Demos and Presentations using ZOOM (6 articles)
  17. It is important to show data which will appear to be interesting and relevant to the audience. If you are conducting a session for a particular customer or vertical, try to get data related to their industry.
  18. If you cannot get it or if you do not have time, you will need to use some fictitious data. However, remember that even fictitious data can be easily made to look like it is optimized for a particular field, role or industry. Effective use of Tables, Rand(), RandBetween(), Choose() functions can be used to create fairly authentic looking data with custom content – in a matter of minutes. (I will write a separate article about this soon)

If you have more best practices which can help all the demo warriors,
please post them here.

*** Enjoy ***

Comments? Suggestions? Wish list?