Thursday, March 17, 2011

Use a storyboard to organize your presentation

A storyboard is a shorthand visual script. It is like a comic strip - a series of drawings with words and images that outline and illustrate the points in a presentation. We can begin to make one by listing our ideas on note cards or sticky notes, and arranging them in stacks, as shown above. It’s easy to rearrange them at this stage.

Next we lay them out in sequence and take another look to see if the order makes sense and flows. If it does, then we can go to our computer, open PowerPoint, type in the words, and add the images. For editing we will use the Slide Sorter view to see an equivalent of our storyboard.

A storyboard can begin with a series of 1-1/2 by 2-inch Post-It notes arranged in a file folder, as is shown above for my speech about the Case of the Corroded Computer, which I discussed previously.

I originally give that speech as project #8 (Get Comfortable with Visual Aids) in the Toastmasters Competent Communication manual. For that audience my PowerPoint slides were similar to those shown above. For the medical high school students I had a more detailed version that included things like the chemical reaction used to test for chloride.

Making storyboards with sticky notes was described by Marie Wallace as Picture Your Speech back in 1997. Bert Decker teaches it as the Decker Grid, using a folder with a template as shown here.

You can watch a recent video of Jon Thomas beginning the storyboard process. Nancy Duarte has described how she edited a 40 minute presentation down to an 18-minute TED talk. She discussed how you can go back to a storyboard from the Slide Sorter view in PowerPoint. Nancy noted that when you print slides as handouts with nine per page the images are 1-1/2 by 2-inches, just like those little Post-It notes.

Storyboards have a long history of use in animated cartoons and other films, as described by the following video.

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