Tag Archives: Ethos3

Design Smarter: Three Views on Storyboarding

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Yesterday, I talked about creating a design decisions slide to serve as a guide for designing a presentation. Today, I’d like to share with you another strategy for designing and organizing a presentation. In Ideate, we learn that the first step of design is to storyboard ideas. But, what does it mean to storyboard a presentation? Storyboarding is a strategy we use in Professional Communication and Presentation as an alternative to an linear outline. While outlining works well for presentations that are content-only, it is difficult to think like a designer and visualize design using a word processor or text-based organizational tool like a formal outline. Storyboarding, a term borrowed from film, television, and animation, essentially means creating a structure that allows one to not only determine the order and organization of content but also begin visualizing the design that goes along with that content. How does one create and execute a storyboard? Here are three professional presenters on the subject:

Scott Schwertly, Ethos3

Schwertly and his firm Ethos3 are leading the presentation revolution (be sure to scroll to the end of their blog to download a copy of the Presentation Manifesto) by following their core values–my favorite of which is “Embrace and Drive Change.” In their latest addition to their comprehensive and beautifully designed blog, “Ethos3 Secrets: Crafting a Storyboard,” Schwertly shares his team’s process for creating and using a storyboard. The starting point is the big picture, the big takeaway, or the big idea. Having this in place before even beginning a storyboard can help a project stay on track. Then, using presentation software, paper, or a word processing program, create the template for your storyboard. In class, we use the layout below for storyboarding along with sticky notes.

This student drew in ideas for slides ,and in the lines provided, explained what he would cover on each slide.

This student drew in ideas for slides ,and in the lines provided, explained what he would cover on each slide.

Once you begin filling in your storyboard, remember a few important things: 1. Imagine your visual support as you craft your content and 2. Revision is part of the process and is key to generating a strong structure.

Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen

I was first introduced to the concept of storyboarding via the Zen master, Garr Reynolds. I had always known about presenter’s notes and the ability to use them as a way to combine content and visuals, but as I was still creating “slideuments,” my use of these notes was minimal. Reading the article “Lessons from the art of storyboarding” helped me move into the realm of cinematic presentations. Reynolds’ article is less a how to and more an inspirational tool illustrating what we can learn about visualization from the folks who’ve done it best since 1923, The Walt Disney Company. According to Reynolds, storyboarding helps presenters visualize the story behind their presentation. To be a good storyboarder, one must be not only a good communicator who can create a clear, engaging, and cohesive story, but also be a great storyteller, using visuals to communicate “the meaning and the feelings behind the idea” (Source). Reynolds suggests going analog for this process–a whiteboard with sticky notes and markers, a strategy used by other leading professionals in the field (and which works very well for team projects).

Nancy Duarte, Duarte Design

Duarte Design uses whiteboards and sticky notes, a practice Nancy Duarte, Fairy Godmother of Presentations, discusses in her books Slide:ology, Resonate, and the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. In the final article I’ll share with you, Duarte explains her unique approach to storyboarding in developing a presentation on visual thinking. For this particular presentation, the traditional storyboard and stickynote format left the presentation disconnected and disjointed. So, Duarte used receipt tape (just as Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road on one continuous roll of paper as opposed to separate sheets) to storyboard the presentation. The result was a cohesive and connected presentation. Check out the result on Duarte’s blog. The lesson here is be creative! The strength of your drawings doesn’t matter, neither does any one way of storyboarding. The point is to use the best tool for you in a specific presentation development situation.

To learn more about storyboarding, check out the following articles from Tweak Your Slides:

Storyboarding a PechaKucha

Storyboarding: Four Patterns of Organization

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4 (but really 6) steps to creating a visual resume

This week in Professional Communication and Presentation, the focus is the visual resume, a project I developed several years ago after seeing my friend Christin’s Prezume. I am currently working on a revamp of mine to match the new teaching portfolio and teaching philosophy infographic I worked on last year and this year, and ran across this article from Ethos3’s Scott Schwertly titled “Four Steps to Creating a Visual Resume“. In it, Schwertly shares some tips (six in total) I will be sharing with my students tomorrow. Schwertly advises visual resume creators to remember the importance of that first slide; catching your audience’s attention with that first slide will help set you apart from the crowd and also provide sufficient visual stimulus that makes the audience want to know more. Empowered Presentations, a Honolulu-based presentation design firm tasks each of their associates with creating a visual resume that showcases the individual’s abilities and personality. The first slide of each EP visual resume establishes the tone and feel for the presentation and the presenter’s personality:

Another tip Schwertly shares with readers in this article is brand yourself. This to me is one of the most important lessons to learn about a strong visual resume (and a big area I’m working on in my new version). Consistency in design that communicates and conveys who you are to your audience is key to a strong visual resume. I love love love how David Crandall brands himself as the anti-cog superhero in his Anti-Resume Manifesto:

One final tip I’ll share with you from the article is “Ask for It.” A visual resume is your chance to let a prospective company or client know exactly why they should want to work with you. As Schwertly says, “you need to provide purpose and meaning behind your visual resume.” Not inviting the audience to contact you is akin to closing a presentation with “that’s it.” It simply tells the audience you’ve wasted their time and they can now go about doing something more important. Slideshare user Yuri Artibise ends his presentation with two simple ideas: 1. That’s my story; what’s yours and how can I help? and 2. Here’s how we can connect. This gives the presentation that sense of purpose it needs to propel it forward in the audience’s mind.

Have you built your visual resume yet? If not, Schwertly’s article is a great starting point. Check out the rest here!

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