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Storyboard for Ugly PowerPoint

If you have never put together a storyboard, think of it like a comic book, but without all the cool art. It gets your story idea into a format that you can send to other people for review without spending a ton of time on production. This comes in handy when you’ve been given some content by a subject matter expert (or SME) and you start to conceptualize how your presentation is going to be structured. Before you commit too much time to the end result, you want to make sure everyone agrees with how you’ve structured it and what you plan to do with the graphics. Your storyboard becomes your blueprint for the finished project.

Following my Project Milestones, I have met with my SME’s and stakeholders and have created a draft storyboard with a script based on the PowerPoint presentation and some ideas about the graphics. I now give my SME’s a chance to make any changes to it and to respond to some of my notes. At this point, I’ve learned quite a bit from my SME’s about how reclosers work, but I don’t want my phrasing to sound awkward. I have urged my SME’s to specifically look for these types of errors because I’m pretty sure that if something doesn’t sound right to the learners, the presentation won’t have as much credibility with them. This training is designed for experienced line mechanics from the field and I can almost see the eye rolling if they hear terminology that doesn’t sound authentic.

To create my storyboard, I copied the notes directly into a Word document and then re-arranged each part into a section that made sense to me. For example, I came up with sections like, How Reclosers Work, What Types of Reclosers You’ll Find, and How Reclosers Work. I filled in each section with notes that covered each of those topics. I copied thumbnails of the original PowerPoint into the graphics column and added notes about animations or interactions that would help illustrate a particular topic.

As I send a link to my reviewers, I think it’s pretty important to give them a realistic deadline for them to get back with me with their feedback. In the past, I have always appreciated it when a project manager follows up with an email after our meeting. I could turn that email into a To-Do or a calendar entry, depending what kind of system I was using. A follow up reminder email can be helpful as we get closer to the deadline. I need to be careful not to sound too “naggy” but I know that some folks do appreciate a reminder.

Right now, I’m just using a standard Word document to create my storyboard. It’s just a table divided up into three columns and I can paste in a thumbnail graphic or just make some notes about what I want it to look like. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done plus it’s easy to distribute to teams. I noticed a cool tool you can use online for storyboarding called Storyboard That. You can put together comic book style storyboards and share them online. Your free account gives you the chance to create three per week. Plus, you can email a PowerPoint of your storyboard to yourself. Pretty cool! It may not be suitable for this project, but you never know when something from your “bag of tricks” will come in handy. This one’s definitely going into my bookmarks.

So, the next step is to dive in and begin developing my graphics for this course while I’m waiting for the feedback. It’s going to be a challenge working with photos that have been stretched out of proportion or copied from unknown sources. Nothing is set in stone at this point, but I’m pretty confident that I have the basics down and can start visualizing what this will look like.

Additional Reading

2 Mile post along the Mt.Washington Auto Road

Project Milestones for Ugly PowerPoint

I’m going to outline the project milestones that I’d have if I were the instructional designer for the “Make the Ugly PowerPoint into a Beautiful¬†Articulate” project (as I’m calling it now).

  1. Meet with the Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) and stakeholders to determine the goals and objectives of the course. Also, find out when they’d like to see this in production, or how much time they would expect this project to take.
  2. Using the information from the meeting, create a storyboard that includes a draft version of ¬†the script along with some ideas about the graphics. Distribute this to the SME’s for script approval. I like to include a hard deadline for their feedback to keep the project on track.
  3. Develop the graphics, gather or take photos, and get copies of other media like videos or supporting documentation.
  4. Create the assessments making sure they align closely with the objectives we’ve determined from the first meeting. Also, if evaluation data is needed, it’s a good idea to put together a pre and post test at this point. These tests could be made up of questions from each assessment in the course. If it’s a shorter course, just a final test may be all that’s needed.
  5. Create interactions, animations, and triggers that will be featured in the course. Also insert other media like video or websites.
  6. Upon final approval of the script from the SME’s, record the voice over (if necessary).
  7. If a voice-over is required, edit the audio and insert it into the presentation. Paste the script into the notes section and synch the audio to the animations.
  8. Publish a draft of the presentation and send to the SME’s for feedback. Again, I like to give them a deadline to keep the project on track.
  9. Make any changes based on the SME feedback.
  10. Create a PDF version of the presentation that includes the notes. Also add any additional resources like weblinks and other documents for further study on the subject.
  11. Re-publish the final presentation and set up online. If needed, create the appropriate content ID’s for the LMS and attach the content.
  12. Send the links to the stakeholders for promotion of the course to the appropriate audience.

I like to use a “checklist” for my projects so I don’t miss any steps along the way. It’s modeled after the ADDIE model. I may stray away from this model at times, but I feel it’s a good starting point. If I’m working with printed material, I can print this checklist out and attach any relevant materials. I have found it to be very useful when I’m working on several projects at one time and need to jump from one project to another and keep track of them without missing a beat.

Next post, I’ll dive into the actual project.

Project 1: Ugly PowerPoint


The Reclosers presentation is a great example of an ugly PowerPoint given to me to make into an online presentation.

There are multiple audiences for this presentation. First, it is for electrical utility line mechanic apprentices who need an introduction to reclosers before they perform hands-on training in class. Trainers can use it in class, accessing it from the company’s intranet and playing from their laptops using a projector, pausing the Articulate player when they would like to expand on a point made as they go along. Second, it is for experienced utility line mechanics in the field who can access it from the LMS using a laptop computer in their trucks to brush up on their skills. In fact, any employee accessing the LMS would be able to get information about reclosers from this presentation. But as it has been made obvious by the recent reviews on https://www.richtekelectrical.com.au/,¬† it’s assumed that the audience has some knowledge about utility distribution equipment. Third, it is for line mechanic supervisors who would like to use it for their safety meetings, like the trainers would use in the classroom. They could access it from the company’s intranet using their laptop and a projector for a small group of their employees. It is fairly common to be asked to provide a product with multiple uses in order to maximize the benefits for the widest audience possible. A great choice of projectors is available at https://www.buydlp.com/.

I would be teamed up with a subject matter expert, most likely one of the trainers who had originally developed the PowerPoint. Draft versions of the Articulate presentation would need to be approved by a larger team of trainers, and when final approval is achieved, would be made available on the trainer’s website and the LMS. I would work with Corporate Communications to advertise the product’s availability via email and the company’s intranet site. In the weeks after the release, evaluation data would be gathered from the LMS and the trainer’s website (Sharepoint) to see how often the presentation was being used, any feedback given, and if it was reaching the intended audience.

Next post, I’m going to talk about the milestones of the project and the most popular audio visual rentals.