THE POWER OF STORYBOARDING

In our last post we shared some suggestions on how you can start building up your storytelling skills. One way to make this easier is to think visually before you plunge ahead. In other words to storyboard your story. It’s what filmmakers and animators do. Even for the shortest video clips, a storyboard is essential. And really, it’s simply making a visual map of the story you want to tell through your presentation.

Do you need advanced drawing skills for this? No. Even the most basic doodles are fine for a storyboard. It’s like a road-map that will guide you as venture into the terrain. Since we’re on a travel metaphor, let’s use that to draw a rough sketch of the process that we call storyboarding.

Say your presentation is on a one-stop portal for all travel-related needs, from bookings to insurance to customized packages to personal guides in location.

Using a hint from storytelling, start dramatic:

A person drowning! In chaos, confusion, multiple costs, bewildering itineraries, unknown languages.

A saviour appears: either a helicopter, or a motor boat or a lifeguard… and pulls the drowning person out of that sea of uncertainty…

And transports him/her into a magical place: you decide what that should be: an island, an enchanted tower, a spaceship…

Where the saviour makes the person feel like a king/queen by serving up exactly what he/she asks for… you can decide what kind of saviour fits your story best: the wish-granting genie of fairytale or a technical wizard who can almost read minds and meet requirements at the click of a cursor.

Voila!

That’s your transition to the actual service being offered. Remember that “portal” is just another word for “door” – so capitalize on the imagery offered by that word in a storytelling sense…

You can visualize it as a door to another world, a variety of worlds – which could be the different countries, a multiplicity of people – the different service partners and so on…

You could, if you like, storyboard several scenes in which specific needs are addressed. For example:

A person lost in a foreign country, who can’t speak the local language: you have an interpreter appear at his elbow

A person who has just lost her luggage – all 14 pieces of them! – and you have an insurance agent restoring her calm by reminding her she’s insured

A person whose flight is cancelled and thinks she can’t get a booking anywhere, until a car arrives to whisk her away to the nearest hotel

And so on… by sketching out the key frames for your storyboard you will also gain clarity on what claims you can make with full credibility and which could be seen as exaggerations. It’s a great way to weed out the weak points of your argument, and reaffirm the strong ones.

Once you have the outline and flow of your story literally visualised with sketches and words in front of you, you will find that your presentation will take on the shape and flavour of a story rather than a cut-and-dried report.

As you refine the words, replace your doodles with clipart or even photos, and design the slides for maximum impact (returning to some of the learnings you’ve already gained on these topics from previous posts) you will find yourself taking on the role of the storyteller more easily. After all it’s your story, your storyboard and your telling.

Enjoy! Because if you do, so will your audience!