Ethos3 Secrets: Crafting A Storyboard

The core of a great presentation is your content, a philosophy we take pretty seriously here at Ethos3. Most people approach their content as a blank page in a PowerPoint document, but what if there was a better way? Take a tip from the professionals (us) and craft a storyboard to outline your content. It’s a great way to organize your thoughts, visualize the entire presentation, and make sure your content flows. So, how is it done?

Step One: Create Your Takeaway

It’s essential that your audience leaves with a takeaway. This is what you want them to remember as they drive home, or even tell their friends about a week later. Outline this larger goal before you begin working on the content. Need them to remember more than one thing? Don’t exceed three takeaways, as a rule. Type, scribble, or record this somewhere separate from your outline so you can refer back to it.

Step Two: The Set Up

Using Word, Pages, scrap paper, or even a sturdy napkin, create blank boxes to represent a single slide. How many boxes should you make? We personally love longer slide counts with minimal text (and hate bullet points), but it depends on how much content you will need to support your takeaway. Aim for 10 more slides than you originally thought, as a place to start. Most decks that we create average 50 slides, and presenters fly through them.

Step Three: Visualizing Each Slide

Once you’ve created the blank “fake slides,” make sure that the program/paper you are using has space for two things: Image Suggestions and Notes. For each slide you create, imagine how you would like the the text to be laid out and what kinds of images/charts/photos you could potentially use. This will help you imagine the piece as a whole, and may give you some inspiration for an overarching theme or visual metaphor.

Step Four: The Labor of Love

Now comes the hard work: filling out your storyboard. But don’t let the pressure get to you, this is definitely not a final draft. Start with an intro slide, separate your deck into main sections that support your takeaway, include a call to action slide, and finish with a polite “thank you” at the end. Just make sure those blank squares are filled and you have a beginning, middle, and end.

Step Five: Edit

At Ethos3, we usually go through many rounds of client edits before we land a final content draft to send to the designer. Never in our glorious history has a first draft been cheerfully approved, there are usually many changes. In your own storyboard, don’t be ashamed to revise, revise some more, and then revise again. We also highly recommend having someone else give you feedback, or revisiting the draft with fresh eyes after a break.

By the time you are ready to turn your storyboard into a presentation, you will have planned a main takeaway, created a basis for your design, and perfected the content. Your deck will have the same foundation as a professionally designed deck at Ethos3; trust us, you will be able to tell the difference.

Question: What areas of your presentation can be improved with a storyboard?

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