Get your presentation working well through story boarding


Today I worked with a client who had written quite an academic paper for presentation at a conference. Our challenge was to turn that paper into an engaging presentation.  Story boarding was the answer.  This technique enabled us to quickly turn his complex academic content into a much more straightforward and stimulating presentation.

Storyboarding is often used for development of the plot  for movies or writing a novel and so on.  It appears to have been widely adopted after Disney studios started using it. The image here is one from storyboarding a movie, but you will get the idea of how it might apply to a presentation, plus how it doesn’t have to be great artistry to be useful.  Just as well in my case!

With storyboarding, after having clarified your purpose for the presentation, you work out the three or four major points that will enable you to achieve your purpose. Then you tease out each of  those major points into a series of sub-points, again relating them to your overall purpose.

My story boarding is very basic:

  1.  I grab a blank piece of paper, turn it into a series of boxes, similar to the image.  I write topic headings for a series of slides that communicate the points I want to make. Sometimes I need to add more slides, so I just add them in.  If you are preparing a group presentation, sticking Post -its on a wall is good for this stage (one slide per post-it) because you can move them around and add in more slides as the group discusses the presentation.
  2. Once I think I have about the right number of slides, I rough out a title for each one and make sure that the title reflects the key message of the slide.  At this stage I also jot down ideas for visuals that would best convey the message of the slide.
  3.  I then turn my storyboard slides into a series of draft PowerPoint slides.  You could do that earlier, but I find I think more creatively on paper.

There are a number of benefits you will get  from storyboarding your presentation:

  • Thinking the messages through very clear
  • Creating a better sequence of ideas once you have seen them all laid out in front of you
  • Becoming more creative about potential visuals, rather than just getting stuck in bulleted slides
  • Tightening  up the presentation because you can see any repetition and over-done detail.

Just try it out as a technique. You will be amazed how fast and productive it is.  The excellent Garr Reynolds has written a more sophisticated version in: Make Presentations that People will Remember: The Process and if you Google ‘storyboarding for presentations’ there are heaps of good tips.


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