October 24, 2014 Mitchell Derrey

Developing a narrative is tough. Developing a story that captures and holds your audience’s attention is even harder. While you may be tempted to start with a storyboard, don’t – creating the storyboard is never the first step in the process. First, you have to identify your audience and the actions they should take from your talk. Next, get more specific by thinking through what your audience actually cares about. Think about what will get them excited. This is your hook.

You may be familiar with the idea of storyboarding from films, and this approach really isn’t all that different. After defining your main hook, create an outline of each key point, and figure out what content you have that supports those takeaways. Keep in mind the most important facts you want your audience to walk away with, and let that drive the messaging.

Storyboards help…

To see the overall story arch 

Most of the time our clients come to us with a presentation that’s been carefully thought out. When we lay out the storyboard, they can see the entire flow from start to finish.

Identify too little or too much of content 

Even with presentations that have been delivered before, it’s important to check the storyline and see if it works with a new audience. Plus, the storyboard can help you see if you’re missing information or have too much in one area. 

Adjust the pacing of content flow 

To keep an audience engaged, you need to create some tension. Alternating between the reality of “what is” with your vision of “what could be” is a great way to connect, even during parts of your talk that might seem boring. Think about your audience, and where you might lose them along the way.

Put emphasis in the right places 

Many times, a group of contributors have scrambled to pull all of their slides into a master presentation without really looking at the overall story and making sure that their key messages are delivered to the right people at the right time. Without an overall plan, the story can break down.

Storyboarding your presentation is a great way to see the story come to life visually, and lets you focus on the key takeaways. The storyboard, when done right, can turn the main points you want to make into a well-crafted presentation.