If you attend conferences and seminars regularly, you may notice that many presentations seem hastily put together. Rather than the presentation telling a story, it seems to tell bits and pieces of stories… like a visual version of MadLibs. If only those presenters would have storyboarded their presentations first! A storyboard is a graphic representation of elements in sequence. Creative folks use storyboards to plan presentations, videos, comic books, and whenever they’ve a story to unfurl.
If you don’t use storyboards when creating your presentations or videos, I highly recommend that you start using them. As a visual storyteller here at MarketingProfs, I rely on storyboards to create our illustrated slides shows. Here are five reasons why you should consider using them, too.
1. A storyboard creates a path amid the creative mayhem.
A storyboard works like a track on an amusement park ride. You still get all the excitement of a ride, with its surprises and quick jolts and great heights and plunging lows, but you don’t crash or end up flung somewhere else. You remain focused on your story from beginning to end.
In creating a storyboard, you are putting down the track for what you hope will be a captivating ride for your listeners or viewers. You get to plot out the little twists and turns along the way and figure out where you are planning to take your audience.
2. A storyboard reveals potential problems or challenges.
Halfway through putting down the track for your story, you might discover a few problems with it. Maybe you realize that the fabulous anecdote that you wanted to share no longer fits into your overall story. Or you find out that you only have seven strong points in your talk—instead of the twelve that you had promised to deliver.
Those discoveries are good. In fact, they’re wonderful—for they are why you created the storyboard in the first place. You’ve worked out what problem areas to avoid, what things to look out for, etc. Now you can fix those points along your story. And fixing a small-scale storyboard is far easier than fixing a huge presentation that you thought was ready to go.
When I first storyboarded the presentation Eight Misconceptions About a Remote Workforce, I realized that the tongue-in-cheek text I had written wouldn’t work for the purpose of the slide show. So, I had to scrap my draft and start over. Also, I had planned for 12 important misconceptions to write about—but not all the misconceptions would work in terms of imagery nor, to be honest, was every point strong enough for the presentation.
Fortunately, I learned those facts in storyboarding, where the only waste was one sheet of paper and an hour… as opposed to having done 12 slides, then drawn, written, scanned, and prepped them, and made the same conclusion. So, I just reworked my storyboard, which proved to be better focused and more visually appealing. The final slide show came from that second storyboard.
3. A storyboard saves you time.
A storyboard might sound like a waste of time, but it actually saves you time in the long run. Rather than spend three hours staring at your computer, wondering how to visually represent your story, you’ve already spent an hour storyboarding it—so when you need to map out the images, they are already prepped for you.
4. You can adapt a storyboard to suit your style of planning.
You can make your storyboard as rigid or loose as you want. Some folks like to use downloadable storyboards (just Google it and you’ll find tons of free storyboard templates) and carefully draw or write in each square. Some folks head out to their local art supply story and grab storyboard paper from the comics section. Others are more of a “Grab a piece of paper, draw some crazy squares all over it, and then sketch something out.”
Storyboards are your look behind the scenes, so enjoy the freedom of no one else looking at them. Be as minimalist or detailed as you want. Write tons of text or scrawl the words in a different app or piece of paper. The most important part of a storyboard isn’t whether the piece looks professional—it’s whether your storyboard works for you.
5. Storyboards can help you track your progress.
For folks who like to check off items on their To-Do List (on paper even!), a storyboard can create a visual checklist of sorts. As you work through each point made in your storyboard, you feel a sense of being that much closer to your goal of having a fantastic finished piece of content.
So, do you storyboard for presentations, videos, talks, etc.? What tips would you share with someone getting started in storyboarding?