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Tricks for Getting to the Core of Your Story (Part 2)

Part Deux in our 3-part series on finding the essence of your story. Read part one here.

2. Little Cards, Fat Markers

Get yourself a stack of index cards and a few Sharpie markers. Chances are, you already have an idea of some of the slides you want to have in your presentation, so use the index cards to start building it. (Don’t worry that you don’t know the essence of the story yet; that will come.) Use one index card per slide and use the Sharpie to add the main idea for each slide. You can write or sketch, whatever works for you. Just get the main idea down. Think through all the things you want to share with your audience and convert them all to index cards.

In this case, the tools will actually help focus your thinking. The size of the index cards will limit your canvas, and the thickness of the Sharpie will determine what you can fit on each slide.

Once you have some of your slides on index cards, you can start to shuffle them around. I like to lay them out on our pool table (yeah, it’s a great place to work) and move them around until I can “feel” the story. After awhile, you’ll start to see patterns emerge. Line them up in columns and rows, grouping similar ideas together, and eventually some kind of order will emerge.

By now, you’ll have a much clearer story in your head than when you started. Now take a picture of your layout or number your index cards so you don’t lose the slide order you just created. Then, go build a rough draft in your favorite slide creation tool.

This is part two of a three part series. Read part one here. Tune in next time for the stunning conclusion

Doug Neff

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  • Corey Molinelli

    You know I use this method in fact I just bought a bulk supply of stickies because i am working on a 4 hr presentation! One thing I would like to find is a notebook that Garr has wrote about several times. The storyboard style books. I travel a LOT and a few of these would be great for me while on the road. I bought a few of the moleskin ones they are just so small and the boxes are almost unusable for me. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Corey Molinelli

    You know I use this method in fact I just bought a bulk supply of stickies because i am working on a 4 hr presentation! One thing I would like to find is a notebook that Garr has wrote about several times. The storyboard style books. I travel a LOT and a few of these would be great for me while on the road. I bought a few of the moleskin ones they are just so small and the boxes are almost unusable for me. Do you have any suggestions?

  • I’ve always used my Moleskine as more of a catch-all, brainstorming tool. For storyboarding, I need to be able to see things laid out in space, then move them around.

    But I found a Moleskine hack that might give you what you’re looking for: http://ninthwavedesigns.typepad.com/ninth_wave_designs/2005/09/moleskine_hack_.html

    Good luck!

  • I’ve always used my Moleskine as more of a catch-all, brainstorming tool. For storyboarding, I need to be able to see things laid out in space, then move them around.

    But I found a Moleskine hack that might give you what you’re looking for: http://ninthwavedesigns.typepad.com/ninth_wave_designs/2005/09/moleskine_hack_.html

    Good luck!

  • I love this site so so so much 🙂 Cool site!!,

  • I love this site so so so much 🙂 Cool site!!,

  • Hello admin, nice site you have!,

  • Hello admin, nice site you have!,

  • We were just discussing storyboarding for Ignite presentations (ignite.oreilly.com). Since slides auto-advance for those rapid presentations, always knowing the next slide is awfully useful!

    If you have a cohesive story, effort to remember the next slide will be minimal. If you have to backfill a story to fit the slides, effort to remember the order will be multiplied.

  • We were just discussing storyboarding for Ignite presentations (ignite.oreilly.com). Since slides auto-advance for those rapid presentations, always knowing the next slide is awfully useful!

    If you have a cohesive story, effort to remember the next slide will be minimal. If you have to backfill a story to fit the slides, effort to remember the order will be multiplied.

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