Storyboarding is an extraordinary communication tool to help us all shape, simplify, and share better stories. A storyboard is a visual mock-up of how we plan to unfold our idea, plan, or story. It consists of a series of frames, each with an illustration of what is to happen in that frame. Underneath each frame, we can add text for support.
Storyboarding has its roots in the cartoon and animation industry. It is now used in constructing commercials, websites, video games, product launches, strategic plans, pitches for start-ups, and much more.
Storyboards are simple and strategic. They force us to focus first and foremost on fleshing out our story. From there, a storyboard’s easily movable parts make it easy to play with the organization of our story elements.
Why is storyboarding such a dynamic communication tool?
First, many of us are visual learners, and storyboards are a powerful way to visualize an idea, process, and story. They facilitate visualizing the big concept, as well as identifying the key plan steps and story elements along the way. Next, their rough and tumble nature allows us to get our first ideas down quickly, speeding up content creation. With a storyboard, we easily can begin to test our narrative to pinpoint any holes and make any necessary corrections. One of the greatest strengths of storyboarding is in collaborations. The visual facilitates securing team input and consensus. It also simplifies the early sharing of our narrative with others for feedback so that we can pivot if needed.
I am a storytelling nerd and adore playing with how and when I disclose story details. This is another strategic advantage of storyboarding.
The way we unfold our ideas and stories can dramatically change their impact. In storytelling, there are no rules in terms of sequencing. Our story can be presented in any order that is more likely to get our audience hooked and on board. Pulp Fiction is the perfect example of a film that pulls the audience along by re-ordering the story to make the greatest impact. I coach professionals to always start stories with the “wow”. The “wow” can be our vision for the future, the conceptual big idea, or the statement or question that undoubtedly will move our audience emotionally. Once we have a captivated audience, we can talk about how we got here or how to get from here to there.
Storyboards are meant to be informal and rough. We can create our board by downloading online templates in Photoshop, PowerPoint, Word, or PDF. We also can create boards on sites such as Canva. Post-it notes, index cards, and pieces of paper suffice as well. Luckily, we do not need to be artists. We can use stick figures, simple sketches, or digital images for the graphics within the frames. Anything goes. It just needs to be enough to communicate our idea, story, or presentation in a way that we can test and share it for consensus and feedback.
If we are planning visuals, storyboarding helps us understand the specific role each slide needs to play. I am a huge proponent of one takeaway per slide. The storyboard is a springboard for ascertaining the ideal visual takeaway to convey the substance for that slide.
Last, but certainly not least, storyboarding will make us better communicators. Although the process takes a little time upfront, the time investment offers the possibility of huge returns in our ability to develop and deliver clearer and simpler messages. Few of us enjoy the time and frustrations involved in making edits. Many of us react to the need for fine-tuning, with kicking and screaming. I am no exception. In the end, my presentation is unequivocally better. Although less is often more, the key is to understand where brevity works and where additional details will make a huge difference.
Storyboarding will vastly advance our storytelling. I highly recommend your adopting storyboards as your sounding board, too. Need help with your storyboard? I'd love to help you out. Contact me here to get started.