In our blog post Award Winning Presentations we mentioned the importance of creating a storyboard before you start to design your PowerPoint slides.
In this article we look at why storyboards are so important and how to get started on yours.

A storyboard is a vital part of the presentation planning process:

  • It forces you to concentrate on the content of your presentation before you get sidetracked with the design
  • Following a storyboard layout can highlight any gaps of information
  • Using a storyboard allows you to check that your presentation flows logically and is easy to understand
  • You can edit and rearrange your slides quickly

Blog illustration - storyboarding for a PowerPoint presentation

How do you storyboard a presentation?

Let’s start with a call to action:

First, you need to plan what you want your audience to do, to learn, to act on or to take away. That’s a call to action.
Write it down twice on post-its or a bit of paper. You’ll want to have a slide on this near the start and also at the end of your presentation.

Key messages make up the structure:

Next, decide what key messages you need to convey to convince your audience to follow that call to action. Give this some thought time.
Imagine you have 2 minutes in an elevator with an audience member. What 3 messages would you want to tell them? And what key things do they need to know? Are these things convincing and original? Work on them. Keep their needs central to your key messages.

Next, play around with the order:

One method is to start off by drawing a grid; each box in the grid represents a slide. In your grid you can add headlines that explain your message. Include your  key messages and your call to action (twice) in this grid. Think about both the content and the structure here. What story do you want to tell your audience? How are you going to tell it so that your audience understands as well as remembers it?

You may find it helpful to write on Post-its and stick these to the grid, that way you can easily re-order if necessary. Different coloured markers may also be useful. (Or you can use slide sorter view in PPT, but don’t start designing yet!)

Check it flows:

Before getting too involved with the nitty gritty content, step back and read your headlines alone. Do they flow from slide to slide and tell a story? Do they involve the audience and draw them in? Does it feel relevant to your audience members?

When you have an idea of what headlines are going in each box you can start to fill the gaps with supporting information. If the content doesn’t back up or prove one of your key messages, then maybe it’s not relevant. Or maybe your key messages aren’t quite right.

Try not to fill each slide with lots of bullet points, get creative and come up with some visuals that represent your main points. Visuals will help your audience to understand your message and will be more memorable.

Only once you have a storyboard can you make sure you have covered everything, and get an idea of what your presentation is going to look like.

Now you are ready to open PowerPoint and start building your slides!