How to Fix a Top BBP Storyboard Mistake

Is your BBP storyboard fragmented because your images don’t flow from one to the next?

If so, it’s likely a symptom of the #1 BBP storyboard mistake I see — adding a separate stock photograph to individual slides, without creating a visual story across the slides.

Here’s an example from a presentation by Johan, who is a BBP Online member I’m working with in a series of webinars to create his presentation step by step using BBP. 

To show an example of this common mistake, I created a blank storyboard from Act I of Johan’s BBP story template, then I added a stock photo to each slide from


What I did with Johan’s slides is not technically a “mistake” because the graphics each illustrate a headline, and it’s certainly a big improvement over the old way of filling a screen with text and reading it to an audience. 

But if you want to take your storyboard to the next level of effectiveness, you have to change the way you’re thinking about your PowerPoint slides.

The very word “slide” implies the idea that you are working with separate and distinct visual units, as you would with a stack of 35mm slides that you insert in order into a slide carousel. 

It was fine to think in terms of 35mm slides way back in 1987 when PowerPoint entered the scene.  But this is 2008, and Kodak doesn’t even make slide carousels anymore.

It’s time to throw out your slide carousel mindset and update your thinking to a more contemporary mindset – the mindset of a filmmaker.

When a filmmaker plans her visuals, she’ll sketch out the story across a sequence of frames. You can do something similar when you take the time to sketch your PowerPoint storyboard across your “slides” — when you do this, you’re actually thinking in “frames.”

Here’s an example based on Johan’s storyboard:


Here is how Johan’s story and sketches play out in this sequence:

  1. Title Slide (Uses graphical elements that are pulled in from the following slides)
  2. Setting slide: Here Johan tells an anecdote about how he didn’t have a presence in the real estate market in Simon’s Town, South Africa, but then he started a blog and soon local sellers trusted him and ask him to sell their homes. The sketch indicates this will be a photograph of Simon’s town that fills the screen, with a “Sold” sign appearing when he gets to that point of the brief anecdote.
  3. Role slide: We carry over the sketch of the photograph of the city, and add a question mark as Johan asks, “How many of you want to do something like that in your area?”
  4. Point A slide: We carry over the sketch of the photograph of the city, and add a sketch of someone holding a bundle of cables, as Johan describes that it can be complex and overwhelming to understand how to get a blog started.
  5. Point B slide: We carry over the sketch of the photograph of the city and the sketch of someone holding a bundle of cables, and add an arrow pointing to the “Sold” sign from the Setting slide; as Johan affirms that his audience wants to move from complexity to clear results.
  6. Call to Action slide: We carry over the sketch of the photograph of the city, the sketch of someone holding a bundle of cables, and the arrow pointing to the “Sold”; then the sketch of the person with the bundle of cables fades away and is replaced by a clipboard with three checkmarks, as Johan explains that his audience can get from complexity to clear results by following 3 steps to start a blog.

Johan mentioned that he had never taken the extra step of sketching his storyboard, but after our exercise, he said he was now a ‘believer’ in the power of sketching to tell a more concise and clear visual story.

The visual results became clearer when we added the final graphics, with the photograph of Simon’s Town bay serving as the backdrop for Johan’s Act I story: 


This is one example of what you can do to sketch your own storyboard – there are endless ways you can write, sketch and illustrate your story using the same core techniques. For the technical details on how to do this yourself, see Chapter 7 of the second edition of the Beyond Bullet Points book.

Have you ever made the same BBP storyboard mistake?  Have you tried sketching your storyboard yet?  Add a comment and let me know how it’s going!

(At last week’s BBP Online Weekly Webinar, “How to Fix the 3 Top Storyboard Mistakes”, we covered the mistake covered in this post and two more in detail – BBP Online members can watch complete 1-hour video recording at this page. Johan is also finalizing his presentation, and when he presents it online, I’ll add a link here where you can go to view it.)

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2 Responses to “How to Fix a Top BBP Storyboard Mistake”

  1. Pingback: The BBP Blog by Cliff Atkinson How to Fix a Top BBP Storyboard Mistake « All things upside down

  2. Grand Rapids Mortgage says:

    Thank you for this excellent advice on fixing BBP storyboards – very helpful for a project I am currently working on.

    Best regards,

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