AoF 34: How Charts Lie w/ Alberto Cairo

Alberto_Cairo_Podcast Artwork (2019)
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Guess what? I missed you! After focusing on making our first BI Data Storytelling Accelerator 3-day live workshop a major success, I’m back! Registration is now open for the next workshop on January 28-30, 2020. It’s the hottest thing since fried rice!

Today, I am talking to the amazing Alberto Cairo, author of How Charts Lie. He’s an AoF alumnus, who was on my very first AoF podcast episode where we were the first to announce, The Functional Art (one of the most well-known books in our industry). Stay tuned to the end for an insane book giveaway you won’t find anywhere else!

"A visualization can only be worth a 1,000 words if we know how to read it." - Alberto Cairo [19:11]

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This exciting season of AOF is sponsored by our BI Data Storytelling Mastery Accelerator 3-Day Live workshop. Our second one is coming up on Jan 28-30, 2020 and registration is now open! Join us and consider upgrading to be a VIP (we have tons of bonuses planned). Many BI teams are still struggling to deliver consistent, high-engaging analytics their users love. At the end of three days, you’ll leave with the tools, techniques and, resources you need to engage your users. Register today!

3 Knowledge Bombs

  • Alberto on Visualizations - "An argument made into a visual that needs to be decoded."
  • Alberto on Charts - "Show and tell to enable understanding and avoid misinterpretation.”
  • Alberto on Biases - "Without context, charts don’t make any sense."

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • [04:50]  - If you don’t know Alberto, you’re living under a BI or data visualization rock.
  • [06:15]  - Key Quote: "I have devoted my career to learn, read, write, and design data visualizations." - Alberto Cairo
  • [08:42]  - Alberto’s books make concepts clear, straightforward, fun, and visual.
  • [12:00]  - Learn why Alberto warns: “Be aware of what some people call the Curse of Knowledge.”
  • [13:21]  - Alberto's new book 'How Charts Lie' target audience is not just journalists or scientists: It's about how to create a message or story that can be understood by a broader audience.
  • [16:40]  - Be Better Chart Readers: Do charts lie? Or, do we misinterpret them?
  • [18:30]  - Key Quote: Charts that are perfectly well designed, they are perfectly fine, but are commonly misinterpreted. - Alberto Cairo
  • [19:11]  - Key Quote: A visualization can only be worth a 1,000 words if we know how to read it. - Alberto Cairo
  • [21:41]  - Key ways to overcome biases: Steps to read a visual. Read the title, message, and patterns.
  • [27:03]  - Learn why without context, your charts don’t make any sense.
  • [33:07]  - Bad Data: Bias audience in a positive way; don’t get defensive and place blame..
  • [36:50]  - The Purpose of How Charts Lie: Appreciate charts more, assume charts are not a lesser way of communication than words, and take them seriously.
  • [39:27]  - Albert on Chart Design: Justify decisions based on scientific evidence, not rules; think outside the templates.
  • Right-click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

“You cannot just look at a chart. You need to read that chart to understand it.” Alberto Cairo [19:31]

Links and Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Check out Alberto Cairo’s new book, How Charts Lie (pre-order on Amazon)
  • Check out Alberto’s other books and FREE resources:
  • Alberto’s book recommendations are pure dynamite:

Enjoyed the Show?

  • Reviews on iTunes are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! We read each and every one of them!
  • Join the conversation by leaving a comment below!

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Mico Yuk

Mico Yuk

As the Co-founder and CEO of BI Brainz, I've been in the Business Intelligence/Analytics industry since 2009. Trained 10K+ using our methodologies and frameworks! I love our amazing team and community! I share my passion for data to 20,000+ followers via the Analytics on Fire Podcast, our BI Brainz academy, blog, social media, global keynotes, training, and workshops. Our model is simple. We take what is successful for our customers and teach it! I'm a bonafide beach bum on days off!
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