From Storytelling to Storyboarding

 

Storytelling is probably the oldest form of communication. John Hench, Disney Legend and former Senior VP of Creative Development, used to insist that storytelling was ‘in our genes.’ – Tom Fitzgerald, The Imagineering Workout

Storytelling has played a vital role in our survival – allowing us to share information, knowledge, and values from generation to generation. Story is the medium through which we receive our early learning as to right and wrong, good versus evil, reward and punishment, social values, etc.

We respond to storytelling. It engages our attention; no matter how old we get, who doesn’t love a good story?

Understanding this, Walt Disney created a technique in the early days of his cartoon films that helped illustrate the flow and continuity of stories – the storyboard.

Donald Duck storyboard, circa 1937 - courtesy of Tom Simpson

Donald Duck storyboard, circa 1937 – courtesy of Tom Simpson

Storyboards are tools that allowed Walt and his artists to envision a film prior to production. It allowed his team to have a shared vision of the story they were telling and how it would unfold. As a bonus to driving the creative development, it also offered a cost-effective way to experiment with a film early on, so that when production began, costs could be minimized.

Decades later, the tradition of storyboards continues on, though it has long expanded past just films. At Walt Disney Imagineering, rides, shows, and films for Disney’s theme parks around the world are the objects of regular storyboarding.

Starting with brainstorm sessions, the Imagineer’s first thoughts, ideas, images, and feelings about the story they are creating are captured on note cards and quick sketches.

The storyboards are worked, re-worked, rearranged, and edited until the story is strong and clear. Only then will production proceed.

At Walt Disney Imagineering, everything they do revolves around the story – and storyboards have remained an essential tool in helping them tell the story.

What story are you trying to tell?

Let it start with words and images to single note cards pinned on wall. Step back and look at the story you are trying to tell. Rearrange, edit, and add to the cards. Work at it – hard – until the story is just like you want to tell it.

Now, it’s time to tell the story…

 

part of a series of ideas to help shape and tone your creative muscles

Inspired and adapted from The Imagineering Workout

 written by The Disney Imagineers

Imagineering logo

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Every Element in Your Presentation Has a Single Purpose…

…to make a change happen.

A presentation is a precious opportunity. It’s a powerful arrangement…one speaker, an attentive audience, all in their seats, all paying attention (at least at first).   – Seth Godin

Don’t waste it.

courtesy of Justin S. Campbell

courtesy of Justin S. Campbell

The purpose of a presentation is to change minds.

  • If all you’re hoping to do is survive the ordeal because of lack of preparation, you’re wasting people’s time.
  • If all you’re hoping to do is amuse and delight the crowd, you’re simply an entertainer.
  • If all you’re hoping to do is pass along information, put it in a document and email it to your audience.

But if you really want to make a change, to move from informing someone to influencing them, ask yourself these two questions:

  • Who will be changed by this presentation?
  • What is the change I seek?

The answers can range from simple to subtle to dramatic.

Once you have the answers, though, dive into it with all you’ve got.

Every element of your presentation – the room, the attendees, the length, the tone, any visual elements, the technology – exists for just one reason: to make it more likely that you will achieve the change you seek. If an element doesn’t do that, replace it with something that does, or throw it out.

If you fail to make a change, you’ve failed. If you do make change, you’ve opened the possibility you’ll be responsible for a bad decision or part of a project that doesn’t work. No wonder it’s frightening and far easier to just do a lousy presentation.   – Seth Godin

A presentation isn’t an obligation – it’s a privilege.

inspired by Seth Godin, Bert Decker, Garr Reynolds, Nancy Duarte, and Andy Stanley

Impact – Measure and Increase Your Presentation’s Impact on Your Audience

We are competing for relevance.    – Brian Solis

Award-winning author and presentation expert Nancy Duarte has a new book out: HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. This is the final part of a series outlining of each of the book’s sections as well as zeroing in on a specific topic.

Section 7: Impact

  • Build relationships through social media – engage with users so they’ll engage fully and fairly with your ideas
  • Spread your ideas with social media – facilitate the online conversation
  • Gauge whether you’ve connected with people – gather feedback in real-time and after your talk
  • Follow up after your talk – make it easier for people to put your ideas into action

As a visual learner, I have images and objects around my office that help me keep things top of mind. One very prominent image is a diagram from Bert Decker’s book You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard. It shows a presenter’s journey from information (focusing on education) to influence (focusing on motivation). If you are not urging your audience to do something, to take action, you should have just sent a memo.

The final section of Duarte’s book challenges you to do just that. All the ideas above are great, but here’s a little more about one that many presenters would run from:

Spread Your Ideas with Social Media

Use social media content the way you use stories, visuals, and sound bites: to reinforce and spread your message.

Social media activity usually spikes during a presentation, with moderate chatter beforehand and afterward. Facilitate the conversation at its peak by:

  • Streaming your presentation – post a live video stream of your talk so people can attend remotely
  • Time-releasing message and slides – use technology to automatically push key messages out at key moments during the presentation
  • Select a moderator – enlist a colleague to keep the social media thread constructive
  • Repeating audience sentiment – use the moderator to repeat and validate what live audience members are saying
  • Post photos of your talk – enlist someone to photograph your presentation and post online
  • Encourage blogging – invite bloggers, journalists, and social media specialists to attend and cover your presentation

If it’s worth speaking about the first time, it’s worth doing all you can to keep people talking about it.

This is the final part of a series looking at Nancy Duarte’s new book HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, highly recommended for all leaders.

When audiences see that you’ve prepared – that you care about their needs and value your time – they’ll want to connect with you and support you. You’ll get people to adopt your ideas, and you’ll win the resources to carry them out.

Leaders speak.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Delivery – Deliver Your Presentation Authentically

 

Never deliver a presentation you wouldn’t want to sit through.    – Duarte, Inc. Golden Rule

Award-winning author and presentation expert Nancy Duarte has a new book out: HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. This is a continuation of a series outlining of each of the book’s sections as well as zeroing in on a specific topic.

Section 6: Delivery

  • Rehearse your material well – roll with the unexpected and fully engage with the audience
  • Know the venue and schedule – control them when you can
  • Anticipate technology glitches – odds of malfunction are high
  • Manage your stage fright – exercises to calm your nerves
  • Set the right tone for your talk – you never get a second chance to make a first impression
  • Be yourself – authenticity connects you to others
  • Communicate with your body – physical expression is a powerful tool
  • Communicate with your voice – create contrast and emphasis
  • Make your stories come to life – re-experience them in the telling
  • Get the most out of your Q&A – plan, plan, and plan some more
  • Build trust with a remote audience – get past technology’s barriers
  • Keep remote listeners interested – you’re fighting for the attention of multitaskers
  • Keep your remote presentation running smoothly – use a checklist to minimize annoyances

These are all great ideas, and I honestly couldn’t pull out a favorite – they’re all that good! Suffice it to say that delivery is critical to the success of your presentation. You may have the best content and message in the world, but if you fail at delivery, what good is it?

Next: Impact

This is Part 7 of a series looking at Nancy Duarte’s new book HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, highly recommended for all leaders.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4 

Part 5

Part 6

 

Slides – Conceptualize and Simplify the Display of Information

At our studio we don’t write our stories, we draw them.    – Walt Disney

Award-winning author and presentation expert Nancy Duarte has a new book out: HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. This is a continuation of a series outlining of each of the book’s sections as well as zeroing in on a specific topic.

Section 5: Slides

  • Think like a designer – visuals should convey meaning
  • Create slides people can “get” in 3 seconds – do they pass the glance test
  • Chose the right type of slide – bullets aren’t the only tool
  • Storyboard one idea per slide – plan before you create
  • Avoid visual clichés – make your slides stand out
  • Arrange slide elements with care – make your visuals easier to process
  • Clarify the data – emphasize what’s important, remove the rest
  • Turn words into diagrams – use shapes to show relationships
  • Use the right number of slides – size up your situation before building your deck
  • Know when to animate – and when it’s overkill

Create Slides People Can “Get” in Three Seconds

Audiences can only process one stream of information at a time. They’ll either listen to you speak or read your slides – they won’t do both simultaneously.

Make sure they can quickly comprehend your visuals and then turn their attention back to what you’re saying.

Think of your slides as billboards on the highway: when people are driving by, they only briefly take their eyes off the main focus – the road – to process billboard information. Similarly, your audience should focus on what you’re saying, looking only briefly at your slides when you display them.

To create slides that pass the glance test:

  • Start with a clean surface – start with a blank slide
  • Limit your text – keep it short, easy to skim, and large enough to be visible from the back of the room
  • Coordinate visual elements – Use one typeface for the entire deck, use a consistent color palette, and use photos of a similar style
  • Arrange elements with care – align graphics and text blocks, and size all objects appropriately

Streamlined text and simple visual elements help your audience process the information much more quickly.

Next: Delivery

This is Part 6 of a series looking at Nancy Duarte’s new book HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, highly recommended for all leaders.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

 

 

Media – Identify the Best Modes for Presenting Your Message

People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint   – Steve Jobs

Award-winning author and presentation expert Nancy Duarte has a new book out: HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Over the next few days, I will be posting an outline of each of the book’s sections as well as zeroing in on a specific topic.

Section 4: Media

  • Chose the right vehicle for your messageslide decks aren’t always the answer
  • Make the most of slide software – it’s not just for slides
  • Determine the right length for your presentation – keep your audience engaged by budgeting your time
  • Persuade beyond the stage – communicate before, during, and after your presentation
  • Share the stage – mixing in experts and media holds interest

Determining the Right Length for Your Presentation

What do all great presentations have in common?

They’re short.

It’s no secret that people value their time. People in your audience won’t scold you for ending early, but they will for ending late. Out of consideration for them and the day’s agenda, stick to the assigned time slot and treat it as sacred.

Doing that, however, is not so easy. It will cost you time to save the audience time. It’s relatively easy to ramble on for an hour or so; it’s really difficult to craft a tight, succinct 20-minute presentation.

Here are five ways to tighten your talk and keep your audience engaged:

  1. Plan content for 60% of your time slot – that will leave time for Q&A or some other form of discussion
  2. Trim your slide deck – put all the trimmed slides at the end of your presentation where they are available is needed on the fly
  3. Practice with a clock counting up – if you go over, you need to know how much you’re over
  4. Practice with a timer counting down – having set time marks at different places in your presentation gives you a running gauge throughout your talk
  5. Have two natural ending points – if you’re running long, you can drop the second ending and still get your message across

Next: Slides

This is Part 5 of a series looking at Nancy Duarte’s new book HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, highly recommended for all leaders.

Use Storytelling Principles and Structure to Engage Your Audience

Stories are the currency of human contact.  – Robert McKee

Award-winning author and presentation expert Nancy Duarte has a new book out: HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Over the next few days, I will be posting an outline of each of the book’s sections as well as zeroing in on a specific topic.

Section 3: Story

  • Apply Storytelling Principles – make your presentation stick
  • Create a Solid Structure – storytelling principles provide a framework
  • Craft the Beginning – Establish the gap between what is and what could be
  • Develop the Middle – build tension between what is and what could be
  • Make the Ending Powerful – describe the new bliss
  • Add Emotional Texture – decisions are not made by facts alone
  • Use Metaphors as Your Guide – memorable themes help rally an audience
  • Create Something They’ll Always Remember – drive your big idea home

Create Something They’ll Always Remember

According to Duarte, placing a climactic S.T.A.R. moment in your presentation will drive your big idea home. That moment is what the audience will tweet or chat about after your talk. Use it to make people uncomfortable with what is or to draw them toward what could be.

Here are four ways to create a S.T.A.R. moment that captivates your audience and generates buzz:

  • Shocking statistics – if statistics are shocking, don’t glide over them, amplify them
  • Evocative visuals – audiences connect with emotionally potent visuals
  • Memorable dramatization – bring your message to life by dramatizing it
  • Emotive anecdote – use gripping personal stories

The presentations that are repeated have memorable moments in them. These moments don’t happen on their own; they are rehearsed and planned to have just the right amount of analytical and emotional appeal to engage both the hearts and minds of an audience.

Captivate your audience by planning a moment in your presentation that gives them something they’ll always remember.

Next: Media

 

This is Part 4 of a series looking at Nancy Duarte’s new book HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, highly recommended for all leaders.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3