There are plenty of Storyboard software applications around, some are free, some are reasonably priced and some are outrageously expensive. I ignored all of them. For now, I am using a custom template in PowerPoint. The template starts with a title page, (how's that for creative insight) which describes the session and the Learning Objectives. I've talked before about Charlie Bourland, the partner I worked for when I was consulting. Charlie stressed that we "read the proposal everyday" so we didn't lose sight of the goals and to keep us from going out of scope. That's what the Learning Objectives are, what do you want these people to know when they leave? If any part of your plan doesn't support those objectives, eliminate it.
After the title page, all the pages are based on two very similar layouts. Each has a visual concept of what the audience will see during this step in the upper right corner. The only difference in the two layouts is that one uses PowerPoint's "Content" placeholder (for adding lists, images, video, etc) and the other is blank space. I use a Tablet PC, so I can simply edit the free space with the Pen. If you use Windows 7, you can also add freehand content, albeit using a mouse. The secret to getting benefit from a storyboard is to keep each step simple. Don't try to illustrate a six-step example you are planning to demonstrate on one slide in the storyboard; use six slides. Keeping the slides granular will make editing easier. Rather than rewrite a complex step, you can simply add or delete slides. Also, just because you are using a PC to build a storyboard, don't limit yourself to a PC in training. The visual concept could be of a Flip Chart or a White Board, or props you plan to use in your training.
Both layouts have three other components:
Instructions – How are you going to make this concept work? How are you going to deliver the content in this step? I will write down things like "point to this object on the screen", "start with story about…", "use… as example here". I also include the actual tasks to be performed, like "narrow the editing box around the man in the picture and show how 'Remove Background' also removes his feet".
Resources – There are three sets of two objects at the bottom left that describe the resources I need for this step. If I am adding a picture, the file name is listed and the picture is shown. My last class included a demonstration of the video editing built into Office 2010, so I included the video I was going to use. I will also make notes here to remind me of the resources I still need to locate or create. Three resources in one step is probably overkill, but I can think of examples like combining PDF files which may use more than one resource. I would never bundle more than three in a single step. I include the recourses on every step they are used in, in case I delete a step later.
Statistics – The lower right side has a text box with the session name, step description, instructor, estimated time and the slide number as step number. The time estimate is the hardest thing to get right at this point, but it is an important element to include. If you have to eliminate something, it is nice to have an idea of how much time you are saving.
PowerPoint's Slide Sorter view makes it easy to rearrange slides/steps and to visualize the storyboard as a whole. Keeping the steps granular also makes it easier to use this feature, as you can avoid having to split slides in to two steps or combine slides into a large one.
Storyboards can get long and terribly detailed, but they don't have to get out of control. Remember, this isn't a production storyboard that you are using to sell the next reality show; these are for you. Don't labor over the details. Einstein said: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." – That is pretty good advice for storyboards.
The video below shows some of the slides in my recent storyboard.