We’re big fans of storyboarding over here at ThinkingKap. But in our long-term relationship with them, we’ve certainly seen our fair share of what works—and what doesn’t.
Why does it matter?
Because everyone needs a plan, right? Your learners need to get the most out of their eLearning within the time frame allotted, and your developers need to know how to execute on your fantastic eLearning vision. If you hit any of these roadblocks, you lose precious time in development and potentially miss the mark with the teaching moments you intended.
Blunder #1: Unvaried Pages
Storyboarding creates an opportunity to look at the course as a whole so you can tie in interesting elements that work together. Sticking with the same, unchanging format with each new page, however, makes the course get stale very quickly.
The fix: Change things up by enlarging important quotes, adding interactive features, utilizing a full screen photo option, and incorporating audio that ties in with certain graphics. Keeping things interesting is the key here.
Caution: Proper variety still requires some uniformity. While the purpose of this point is to create variation, all your screens still need to feel like they belong together. You’re striving for the right balance between diversity and consistency.
Blunder #2: Text Dumping
You may have a lot of material that needs to be covered, but loading up each page with a massive amount of information is going to overload your learner. Storyboards that put too much text on the page or include lengthy videos often result in the learner tuning out.
The fix: Let your storyboard create a story—but keep it short and sweet. Break information down into digestible chunks that flow naturally. Paired with a storyline carried out by a character, your learners can picture themselves in different scenarios being presented.
Caution: This is the place where you may be in for a fight with your SMEs. They often want to throw in EVERYTHING, but that only lessens the experience. Work with them to negotiate the right balance and assure them that all that text does not need to be on the screen.
Blunder #3: Unpolished Material
The information provided by the client needs to be re-written so it feels natural within the course and has a conversational style and tone. If it sounds too formal, the learner is more likely to glaze over. No one wants to read or listen to information in the tone of Ben Stein.
The fix: You’re going to have to massage and polish up the client-provided data so it flows with the storyboard format. Use those contractions and make it sound less stiff.
Caution: Make sure you do this while thinking about the visuals you intend to incorporate. Too often the script calls for imagery that you may not be able to provide. Thinking about the visuals WHILE you are massaging the script can bring better harmony between images and the narration.
Blunder #4: Conflicting Elements
Having a SME read a script that matches the exact text on the screen at the time isn’t harmonious—it’s redundant. In fact, it’s a negative element in your storyboard because it gives the impression that the learners can’t read for themselves. Audio, text, graphics, and videos should work to enhance each other—not repeat the same content.
The fix: Use an audio overlay that explains information that the learner can’t get elsewhere on the page or tie in graphics that add to what a video just demonstrated. Eliminate redundancies to make each storyboarded page unique and interesting.
Caution: This is a delicate balance as well. While you don’t want to repeat verbatim the narration on the screen, posting marginally related text or images on the screen will confuse the learner. Enticing them to read one thing while trying to listen to another is a sure fire way to make sure they don’t retain either one.
Blunder #5: Oddball images
Everything in your storyboard should have a common theme running through it that ties it all together. That means even the images look and feel cohesive throughout—there’s not a random cartoon image thrown in with actual photographs. This common error in storyboarding makes it easy to determine the novices and the experts.
The fix: All images should fit together via photo filter, style, composition, and how it relates to the course.
Caution: This goes back to the caution under blunder 3, thinking about the visuals while massaging the script. If you don’t, this is where you can back yourself into a corner where the only images that convey your message look completely out of place.
Avoid the Storyboarding Blunders
If you can dodge these storyboarding blunders in your next course, your clients will thank you (and your learners will better remember what you helped teach them!)