Are you feeling like a bit of a cliche right now? Surrounded by wadded up pieces of paper that you tried to create a storyboard for a video on?
It’s okay if none of your ideas are panning out. It’s not that you don’t have a good idea – it’s that you need help with the process.
And coming up with good storyboarding ideas is just that – a process. The easier you make the process, the easier the ideas will flow.
Here are a few tips on how to fluidly get down your storyboarding ideas below.
Have Different Templates for Different Video Types
When someone sets out to write a fiction story, do you think they plan it out the same way they plan out a mystery?
Of course not. Different writing genres need different storyboards. As do different video types.
For example, you’re not going to spend lots of time showing what the problem is (see step 4 below) if you’re doing a tutorial video. They’re watching this video because they already know the problem – they just need your help fixing it.
Keep that in mind when you read the next storyboard creation tip, and change the plan around as you need to.
Start Big, Then Get Small With Story Planning
We see a lot of people try to sit down to a blank storyboard and hash out all their ideas. That’s a little bit crazy.
You don’t open your fridge when you’re having a dinner party and stare at whatever you have, then try to come up with a recipe. You may do that when it’s just you eating – but not when it really matters.
Instead, what do you do? You find a recipe or you start with an idea of what you want to make. The same is true for making videos.
Even if it’s an ad campaign, it has a plot – if it doesn’t, then the ad will fail.
So how do you create a recipe for your ad campaign without starting with a blank storyboard? You use a story planning grid.
This one was created for story writers by the National Literacy Trust, but it works for video creators as well.
The Story Planning Grid: Questions to Ask
You don’t have to use their template if you don’t want to. If you didn’t get a chance to take a look at it, here are some of the questions/categories it establishes.
This is a two-part question when it comes to creating ad videos or at least videos that have a designated audience. You want to ask yourself 1. Who will watch this? but also 2. who is the main character(s)?
Once you have that down, you can move on to step 2.
Again, this is two part. Where will you put the ad so that your audience will see it?
But also, where does this ad take place. Where will your main characters be? Where will you film? The more details you mark down in every box, the smoother the actual process will be.
What are you trying to communicate? What’s the end goal? Is it a sale, a conversion, or education? Write the goal of the video here.
Then, write down what the character is trying to do. They’re usually trying to do something you do like your service or something your product helps with – yet they’re failing without professional help.
4. Problem or Threat
This is where you get specific. What are they failing at, in the specific thing they’re doing? Maybe their laundry detergent isn’t getting out all the stains in their clothes.
It doesn’t matter what the problem actually is, in terms of literary interest. It needs to matter to your audience and if you sell laundry detergent, like the example we just used, you know that it does.
What did the character try before they came to your product? There are some funny acne ads that show people trying crazy online “hacks” to heal their acne. Those would be the setbacks.
You don’t necessarily need this step. It adds interest to the video, but you don’t always have time for it, so decide for yourself what you’d like to incorporate.
6. Help or Intervention
Finally – your product or service is here to save the day! This is where you can really brag about the details of how you can help or what you can do to fix the problem that you noted in step four.
Don’t be shy – this is your time to shine.
7. The Resolution
In video writing, the resolution is more like a summary. This person had this problem, they tried to fix it but they had these setbacks until your product finally helped.
Now they are happy/cleaner/safer – whatever you want them to be.
8. The Ending
Finally, your video should have an ending note that sticks in peoples brains. The Geico commercials do this well.
They always end their ad with how you could save time and money by switching to Geico. They do it in a unique way, by integrating their solution into a problem you wouldn’t expect.
Just don’t try the caveman thing they attempted in the mid-’00s. That crashed and burned.
Skipping Planning Steps
We know that you only have so much time to get your message across, but if you’re going to use the guide above – there are two steps you can skip – and no more.
You can skip the setbacks and the ending if you have a strong resolution. But other than that, make sure your frames go in that order.
Other Things to Note
Since this storyboard plan is made for writers, it leaves some of the things we need out. Like a goal. What is the goal of making this video for business?
Then what is the goal or thing you want your clients to do? Develop your goal first, before you work on the rest of your video.
Starting from the vague (goal) and getting more specific will make sure your video does what you intended it to do.
Write Your Script After You Plan
Another mistake we see people make is that they sit down to write a script without making their plan.
Let’s say that you followed the story planning method we laid out above. Now you know exactly what’s going to happen in your video, you have the characters and the events.
Now all you need to do, to write the script, is follow the story planning guide. You’ll still have to decide things like how to open the video, but you know where it’s going.
When you’re writing your script – there’s one essential thing that will decide if your video succeeds or fails: if you write to your audience or not.
Writing for Your Audience
Knowing your audience is the best tool you have ever as a business. It comes in handy for SEO, for making visual ads, for writing social media posts – there’s really nothing knowing your audience doesn’t help with.
And that extends to script writing. If you’re making a video that’s for a product or service older adults use, you’re not going to use slang.
They won’t get what you’re saying, they’ll get annoyed, and your video will get clicked off.
But writing to your audience is more than just your word choices. You need to know what your audience wants or needs.
For example, younger generations want entertainment, while older ones prefer an explanation of value. If you’re selling something, you need to focus on ease of access for younger people. They love convenience.
Older people will happily wait for a product if they think they’re getting the best value for their money.
You can write these things into your script.
Ask for Help if You Need It
Writing a storyboard for videos isn’t something you learn in school. Your parents don’t teach you – it’s something you have to figure out by yourself.
But not truly by yourself. There are video production companies (like us) who will happily help you get the hang of things, along with providing you tools and the studio to do it in.
Even if you think you’re being silly to ask for help, do it anyways. Everyone is still learning in this field, our employees included.
Your question may be one we’ve never figured out before, but we’ll find a solution together. Now you’ve not only gotten your question answered, but you’ve helped us grow our skills and our business!
Storyboarding Ideas: Still Stuck?
If you’re a-ok with the process now, but don’t have any inspiration on what to fill in the boxes with, do some competitor research. Do they have any videos on their page? What do they seem to be used as a structure?
Obviously, you don’t want to copy their storyboarding ideas, but it can give you a place to start.
Ready to talk about your video idea, in whatever stage it’s in? Click here.