The 5-Minute Storyboard

When you start off with a good story structure, you can transform it into a storyboard in a snap.  We just proved the case by taking Jim’s story template and transferring it to PowerPoint to create a 5-minute storyboard (Download jim_storyboard.ppt).


A couple of readers thought it might be tough to scale down the Beyond Bullet Points approach from the 45-minute example in the book to a much shorter presentation.  Here’s how to do it, using the 5-minute column feature that’s built-in to the story template.

Jim completed Act I of the story template yesterday, and today he quickly took care of Acts II and III to create the foundation of a 5-minute story.  He did that by following the steps in Chapter 3, except completing only the first column of Act II.  Here’s how it unfolded:

If you remember Jim’s Act I statements, he ended Act I with a clear recommendation of what he wanted to persuade the audience to do:

Adopt Kansei to discover new packaging opportunities

Now in Act II, Jim pivots off of this clear statement and answers the question that naturally pops in to the audience’s mind now: "Jim, why should we adopt Kansei to discover new packaging opportunities?"

So Jim completes the 5-Minute Column with the three main reasons why:

  1. Connecting feelings with packaging creates more satisfaction
  2. Kansei will widen the scope of packaging design innovation
  3. More satisfying packaging forms platforms for other innovations

These three statements are Jim’s appeal to reason in Act II. (If he had more time to present, Jim would continue to explain his reasons in detail by completing the 15-minute and 45-minute columns.) Recall that in Act I, Jim appealed to emotion, by setting the context for the presentation in personal terms.  This balance between emotion and reason aligns with what neurologists including Antonio Damasio have found in their research — that emotions are essential to rational thinking.

With the first three scenes of Act II complete, we move next to the turning point, which is a rephrasing of the emotional engine that drives the presentation forward and will pivot us into Act III, in this case:

Can Kansei open understanding and successful innovation?

I don’t know, Jim, but that’s an interesting question that engages the audience to consider your whole argument, because it reaches back to remind everyone of the balance in Act II, "successful innovation".

Now begins the final Act III, which ties everything back together:

  1. Overcome the limitations of knowledge with a new approach (this statement summarizes the gap between the balance and the imbalance in Act I)
  2. Adopt Kansei to discover new packaging opportunities (this restates the solution from Act I)
  3. Unfolding opportunities of innovation (this is a simple summary statement to appear on screen during Jim’s verbal conclusion)
  4. Got Kansei? (this is an interesting phrase to appear on screen during Jim’s Q&A session)

Now with the statements of the storyboard complete, it only takes a few minutes to prepare the Word doc (Download jim_storyboard_prep.doc) and transfer the script  to PowerPoint (p. 78) using the Storyboard Formatter (p. 217) that you can download for free; or the process goes even quicker with the Add-In

The resulting storyboard looks like this: Download jim_storyboard.ppt. When you save the file to your local computer and preview it in PowerPoint’s Slide Sorter view, you can easily see all of the major acts and scenes because of the hidden Storyboard Guides (p. 88) that were included in the Storyboard Formatter. View it in Notes Page view to see how the slide area and notes area are designed to work together.  We’ll use all of these features as we begin working on visuals.

In the meantime, I recommend that Jim do an initial rehearsal with the PowerPoint file "as-is" (p. 68), using the headlines of the slides as his prompts as he spends about 25 seconds per slide (p. 69) . Doing that will give him the confidence to know he has a strong and coherent story here, and that the next stage of adding visuals and narration will be the icing on the (story) cake.

This entry was posted in Business Strategy, Communications, Media, PowerPoint, Presentations, Web/Tech, Weblogs. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “The 5-Minute Storyboard”

  1. Mike Smock says:

    Hi Cliff,

    This is great stuff… What are your thoughts on PPT vs PDF formats? (We may stop using PPT altogether in favor of Apples Keynote).

  2. Cliff says:

    Hi Mike,

    PDF is great for distributing PowerPoint files in Notes Page view, so the slide area and corresponding narration are together when someone reads the document – see

    I don’t happen to have Keynote, although the underlying approach would work no matter what tool you use. Does Keynote provide the equivalent of “slide sorter” view so you can plan a storyboard; or the “notes page” view that lets you design both slide and narration together?

  3. Mike Smock says:

    Hi Cliff

    Yes. Keynote supports slide sorting/organization and I believe it allows slide and narration together.

    Seems as if your stuff applies across all platforms… whether it be PPT or Keynote. What caught my attention was the way you frame the brief. We’ll be adding your site as a resource for our clients and subscribers.

  4. Cliff says:

    Great Mike. I look forward to giving this a try using Keynote one day. If you put together something in the meantime, please share it with us!

  5. Howdy! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *