“Now at our studios we don’t write our stories, we DRAW them.” Walt Disney
Storyboards, one of the essential tools in making of animated movies, happens to be one of the most neglected practices in designing a PowerPoint presentation. The most common reason could be that many are not aware of this technique. If you have never done storyboarding on account of this reason, then you have landed at the right place. You’ll know why it’s absolutely necessary that you do it to get the best results from your presentation.
If you knew about it and still never followed it, we just hope you start doing it right away. Storyboarding is a must if you wish to save time, money, efforts and create a “deck that sells”.
What is Storyboarding and Why Should You Do It?
A storyboard is a written and graphic representation of your story and typically involves a series of sketches to pre-visualize how your story will unfold. In one word, it’s a blueprint.
This technique was developed by Walt Disney for his classic cartoon Mickey Mouse in the 1920s. The animators would first create detailed sketches of the characters and show the progression of the story. These sketches were tacked up to the bulletin and Walt Disney and his team would then review the entire flow of the story, move the sketches around and finalize the perfect storyline!
One problem here: Presenters aren’t animators who can design great sketches. They don’t have to be. Storyboarding can be simplified in case of designing a PowerPoint presentation. You don’t have to draw the kind of visual you want for your slide, you can simply write it down. Why do that even? Why add an extra step to the entire process? Here’s why storyboarding is essential to craft a successful pitch:
- Storyboards help you to visualize the structure of your presentation- beginning, middle and end.
- It gives you the opportunity and space to think-out your presentation, it's flow and content. Starting straight in PowerPoint murders that ability of the intellect.
- It gives you creative ideas. The array of tools provided in PowerPoint will not set your creative juices flowing. A piece of paper will.
- Storyboards act as your sketchpad where you can dump all the ideas and choose the best ones.
- Storyboarding lets you focus on the idea and not the tool. (Click to Tweet This)
- Storyboarding saves you a LOT of time. Rather than visualize all the information in your head, you can draw it out on paper, make quick changes and replicate the final idea quickly in PowerPoint.
To sum up, the basic rule of Storyboarding is to-
Start on paper, not in PowerPoint!
All successful presenters, including TED speakers, use this technique to craft their powerful stories and PowerPoint presentations. How do they do it? Here’s how:
7 Steps to Follow While Storyboarding a Presentation
For ease of understanding, in this article we are taking the example of a Product Launch deck (a hypothetical product) to be rolled out in front of the public and media. This has to be hard hitting and worthy of going viral. To ensure that you achieve the results, you need to brainstorm and storyboard. Here are the steps that you should follow for your million-dollar presentation:
Step 1: Answer the question- Why should the audience listen to you?
You have launched a new product in the market. Congratulations! But why should I care? What’s in it for me? Advertisers start here, presenters bury it in slide 32 of a 40-slide deck.
Unless you answer this question honestly, you’ll never be able to create a successful story. The “me, me, me” rambling will reduce your presentation to an uninspiring monologue. Look at how Steve Jobs pitches his products- each product and feature revolves around how it will revolutionize people’s lives.
You’ll never be able to infuse that magic in your presentations if you start straightaway in PowerPoint. If you dive into PowerPoint without any brainstorming, you robotically tend to follow “Click here to enter title” and so on. That’s why out of 3 million presentations given everyday (the number must have trebled or quadrupled by now), 99.9% are forgotten even before audience leaves the hall.
Ask the why- Why should the audience care? Since we are taking the example of product launch over here, the answer will be the same as the one that motivated you to launch the product in the first place. Is there a demand in the market that you intend to fulfill? Or a gap that you intend to bridge? That should be the main pitch of your deck. Jot down these points on a piece of paper or sticky notes or as you prefer to do it. This piece of information should guide the content and designing of the presentation, starting to finish.
Step 2- Prepare Rough Presentation Outline
This should be done on paper, not in PowerPoint. We prefer to use sticky notes for this as they can be easily moved around; you may use a paper, napkin or simply a marker and whiteboard to do it. The idea here is to give a rough structure to your presentation.
Jot down any outline ideas that come to your mind, we’ll refine them later. If the Title slide announcing the launch is the only idea that comes to you for the opening slide, write it down.
Here’s how your Product Launch outline will probably look initially:
Step 3- Remove the Weak Parts
The best part of doing all this on paper and not in PowerPoint is that it helps the presenter distance himself from his baby (presentation) and review the outline as a third person. This will ensure that the presenter separates the wheat from the chaff and keeps only the most relevant slides.
Here you have to ask yourself- Do I need an Agenda slide? Perhaps not if it’s just a 15-minute presentation. Does the audience care who the CEO of the brand is, who the product manager is and so on. I don’t think so. Do they need to know about the industry your product belongs to? That depends. And do you need a traditional thank you slide in the end? You are as well going to say it, why put these two words on the slide and waste time! Be a little strict with yourself and mercilessly chuck out the unwanted portions from the outline:
Step 4- Add Section Headers
Your presentation outlook looks good now. But you won’t obviously be listing out all problems the industry is facing on one slide as bullet points, right? Right? Or highlight all product benefits on a single slide? Remember the golden rule: 1 message per slide. That’s why you will be needing section headers. You need to let the audience know that you have concluded the problem analysis and are now going to speak on the solutions.
Step 5- Prepare Your Final Presentation Outline
Nothing is final. Even when your product launch deck is all polished and ready, you might feel or your boss might tell you to open with the third slide since that has the most hard-hitting fact.
But for your ease, you should finalize the outline before going into design. At this stage when you have the rough outline with section headers included, you step back and play your presentation in mind. Think yourself sitting in the audience. Would they be more interested to know the name of the new product in the market (say R.I.P Jeans) or would they be interested in knowing that they can now order customized distressed jeans! This is your call but keep in mind that you need to have a stellar opening to hook the audience and convince them to buy your product, service or idea. This is where the answer to step 1- why should the audience care, how will it benefit them- will help you in finalizing the outline.
Step 6- Storyboard the Presentation (Rough Sketches of Slides)
Now is the time to draw rough sketches of your slides. You don’t have to be a Michelangelo to do this. The sketch should be neat enough to be read easily by you and others with whom you wish to brainstorm. As we mentioned in the beginning, you do not have to draw a visual. You can however specify the type of visual you require; that’ll help you later find the perfect visual faster.
You can also decide the layout of your slide, colors, placement of visuals and text in storyboarding. Here’s how your sketches look at this step:
Step 7- Convert sketches into polished slides
If you had started designing your slides straightaway in PowerPoint, you most probably would have designed a run-of-the-mill deck stuffed with anything you find on the web. Needless to say, your product launch deck would have lacked the storyline, the pitch and the punch it deserved.
Knowing the elements- visuals, text, icons, etc. you need for each slide, you can now open up PowerPoint and effortlessly create a deck that sells. That too in no time as you only had to replicate it from a piece of paper! Here’s how the ideas on paper get transformed into brilliant designs and an unforgettable product launch deck:
The above case study of a hypothetical product launch presentation gives you an idea how to go about crafting a memorable story that has a beginning, middle and end. Needless to say, the presentation slides would have looked nothing like the above if we had started right away in PowerPoint.
Microsoft PowerPoint is a great tool to visually pitch your ideas but it won't help you in idea generation. For that you have to rely on the age old practice of jotting down your ideas on paper, refine those ideas and finally bring them to the machine. This will save you a lot of time and your presentation will look thousand times better. Still need help with storyboarding your presentation? Contact our Presentation Design Services Team for any help.
If you found our suggestions useful, share them with your friends and followers. Here's a pre-populated tweet to get you started.