In our workshops, we often put a grid of a dozen charts up on the screen, and say to the participants, “Most of the charts you’ll need to communicate effectively in business are right here on the screen. 99% of the time, one of the visuals you see here will get your message across effectively. And as you can see there aren’t any really unusual charts here. You’ve probably seen all of these before.”
If, at this point, somebody in the room says, “Actually, I’ve never heard of a ______ chart before,” you can almost always fill in the blank with the word “waterfall.”
Waterfall charts are really useful in a few scenarios, but I see them get misused far too frequently.