The Storyboard



You need to prepare a presentation. But you don’t know how to start.


Well, take heart. You’re not alone.


Say you’ve spent months working on a project or preparing for an important meeting. In your head there are lots of good ideas, communication objectives, information and statistical data that need to go into your presentation.


But, again, how to start?


If you’re like most of us, you probably decide to start by sitting at a computer and opening the PowerPoint program. And then you spend hours following the suggestion to “click to add title.” And, as you know from previous experience, this is an arduous task that can take days and nights, maybe even weeks, and not a small bit of suffering thrown in for good measure.


It’s the same story everywhere….


But it doesn’t have to be.


Here’s a suggestion that might improve your life at times like this: before you even open the PowerPoint program, start your work with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper. (Or, if you prefer, you can use Word or some other text editing software.) What you’re doing now is organizing the content of the presentation you’ll be creating.


See, since the secret to a great presentation is the content and how it’s organized, the organizing should be the first thing you do.  On paper.  Not in slides.  It’s much easier on paper, you’ll discover.


Now, when you’re thinking about structuring your content, think in organizing mode and think in terms of metaphor and analogy to explain complex or technical concepts. Investing most of your time in planning and structuring a strong message sequence and a line of reasoning that’s impactful for your audience is the only way to ensure the success of your presentation.  And metaphor and analogy work well in conveying ideas – both in images and in words – with the kind of impact you’re looking for.


Think like a filmmaker: before a director starts shooting, the process begins with a storyboard. (The great Japanese director, Kurosawa, was famous for drawing every single scene in  his movies before the lens was off the camera.)


So once you’ve planned the optimum structure for your content and you can see the presentation laid out on paper from start to finish, then you can start to format your presentation using PowerPoint.


The storyboard step is important because, if you make one, you’be be able to visually highlight the most important points of the story you want to tell.


It’s our experience that without good reasoning, a well-structured story and a good storyboard,  a great presentation never results. So before you start throwing your content into PowerPoint slides, try the storyboard method. You’ll see that you have a lot more control over all the concepts, data, and information floating around in your head.