The Event StoryBoard for captivating event stories

Developed by Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s, Storyboarding is used in film, theatre and the start-up industry. In the events industry, it creates a new and logical first step in meeting design. This first step is where the event idea is born. Event StoryBoard (EBS) helps to both create the idea in a team and communicate it clearly with stakeholders. Its focus on creative freedom will make meetings, conferences or special events more meaningful, more unique and best of all: more personalised to the audience.

The ESB canvas is the first design tool that brings storyboarding to event planning. I met Martijn Timmermans, CEO of EBS back in February when I attended the Conventa Conference 2017 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Martijn delivered a very interactive and useful workshop on how to design a pitchable blueprint for events. Since then, I’ve been using the tool and it had a huge impact on the design of all my events.

What I love about this method is that it allows to map the customer journey in just five easy steps, setting clear goals for the event. Additionally, it gives creative freedom to plan events on a small budget or tight timelines! At the end of the day it’s all about the customer experience, so own creativity places a huge role in this. I highly recommend to use the ESB at the start of the design process. It excels in designing an idea/story for an event on which it’s possible to then build upon in the rest of the design process.

Storyboarding is particularly effective because the mind naturally tries to encapsulate a fact, an experience or a new idea in a story form. Therefore, the key to effective communication is to embrace our innate desire for storytelling, not to resist it.”

Disney Institute

If you’ve ever had contact with Disney, you know that customer service and experience is at the centre of everything they create, from their films to the rides in their attraction parks and from their customer experience at the hotels and resorts to their employee engagement.

Nonetheless, other creative industries have adapted this method. Theatres use it to design and communicate plays with their teams. Start-ups use it to pitch their brand to both potential partners and customers. Large companies like Google Ventures use it to get team ideas quickly on paper, AirBnB finds it’s the best way to get employees inside their customer heads. Anyone who works with either concept designing or concept communication can benefit from the power of storyboards.

During the workshop we had a real case study, as one of the attendees wanted to use ESB to design their Mindfulness and Wellbeing event. We’ve used the following five easy steps:

1. Setting Clear Goals (15-30 minutes)

This section focuses on event goal. There are different goals to take into consideration such as business impact, behavioural, learning, learning environment and target participants. To illustrate this, during the workshop our two main goals were to promote wellness as a lifestyle and also the event to become a credible brand over time.

When are you Satisfied? (10 minutes)

The objective for this section is to make event goals measurable. In order to establish this we had to answer the following two questions:

  • When am I satisfied with the event?
  • When is my client satisfied with the event?

For our workshop purposes, we’ve agreed that we will be satisfied if 60% of attendees leave the event with one insight, fact or action that they can apply in their lives regarding wellness.

3. Empathy – Map Your Customers? (10 minutes)

This is the part I most enjoyed, as I’ve been to so many conferences and events where the last thing on the list was the customer journey, as profit usually took priority. The experience organisers create needs to be at the centre of planning, as profit will definitely come if attendees had a wonderful experience.

Empathy Map was developed by Scott Matthews of XPLANE, a visual thinking company. This tool allows to create a customer profile in a very simple and easy way. Empathy mapping focuses on uncovering the sensory information and audience experience. Personas focus on personality, interests, skills, personality, dreams and environment. Empathy maps uncover what an individual thinks or feels, hears, sees, gains, and is challenged by.

For  the purpose of the exercise, we identified different customer profiles. For example He is in his 30’s, young professional, interested in wellness and lifestyle. He works in an office, most probably in a 9am-5pm job. Time, motivation and mixed online information are usually his excuse to not take any action towards his wellness journey.

Additionally, we also answered the following six questions:

  • What do they see?
  • What do they say or do?
  • What do they hear?
  • What do they think and feel?
  • What frustrated them? (pain)
  • What motivates them? (gain)

The Customer Experience Storyboard (30-180 minutes)

The objective is to visualise the journey customer will be making. With the goals clearly defined and deep understanding of customer pains and gains we’ve started designing the storyboard, pre during and post event. This is where the fun begins, as we started drawing.

We had three flip chart papers, one for pre event experience, one for the event and one post event. Firstly, we looked at the customer pains: time, money, mixed information. Secondly, we developed solutions at the pre-event stage such as setting up online webinars. The webinar will offer useful information that the customer can apply immediatly, such as downloads, and also a call to action to attend the event to find out more information.

During the event, we made sure that speakers are covering and offering useful and engaging talks and topics, focusing on the pains identified in the earlier stage. In order to see if we reached our goal and measure this, we were going to ask attendees to write down one useful tip or action they are going to take after the event. And post event, we were going to create a Facebook group where participants would be able to keep in touch and motivate each other in their wellness journey.

Checking Your ROI (15-30 minutes)

The objective for this session was to get a clear view on what the event achieves and if it’s in line with client’s or organiser’s goals and the brand. This way we made sure that the design is aligned with the needs of everyone involved. After completing this step there are two options. If the concept is ready and works for everyone involved, then it’s complete. If not, address the things that are not yet perfect and adjust, add or leave out certain components. This can be clarified by asking three questions:

  • What did your customer experience?
  • Are the goals met?
  • Does the design represent your brand?

In conclusion, whether you want to create a story for your event, want to involve the whole team into the design process or just need inspiration, the ESB canvas is for you.

With the ESB you can:

  1. Design your event from ideas – not limitations
  2. Make sure your event will flow like a story
  3. Effortlessly take the goals and needs of your audience into account when designing
  4. Pitch the look and feel of the event at a glance
  5. Give your whole event team an overview of the event in one look
  6. Let the production team improvise on the design ideas using their own expertise
  7. Summarise most information visually instead of lengthy text

If you’d like to use ESB to design your events, you can download the guide from here. It’s very easy to use and self explanatory.

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Comments (2)

  • Mary 7 years ago Reply

    Drawing up a story board for an event is such a fabulous way to make sure every aspect of the event is on point to deliver the best experience suited for the event-goer. Appealing to the senses through effective, innovative AV use and lighting can create a memorable experience that both delivers the pertinent information, while offering a entertainment factor to keep everyone engaged. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  • Ashwath 7 years ago Reply

    The concept of event story board is very unique and will definitely inculcate this concept in the future event. The blog post was very informative and looking for more such posts.

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