Tatiana Lin is the Senior Analyst & Strategy Team Leader for the Kansas Health Institute.
What is a storyboard?
For some practitioners, the concept of a storyboard continues to be mysterious and challenging. Many people associate storyboards with filmmaking, but their use goes beyond that. The storyboard has become an important tool for planning and visualizing work in other industries, too, including public health. Just as storyboards are used in filmmaking to help visualize the entire movie in advance, they can be used in public health to visualize the whole project. So, in a nutshell, a storyboard is a visual method for displaying a story. There is certainly more than one way to create a storyboard. However, most effective storyboards use a combination of narrative and images.
Why use storyboards?
Like most tools, a storyboard is mostly helpful if used properly. Unfortunately, it is sometimes implemented in ways that limit its usefulness. For example, if a team constructs a storyboard at the end of the project, it cannot be used as a planning tool.
The storyboarding process offers many benefits. It can stimulate a group to think about each step of the process and focus on the key components. The process of creating a storyboard is like putting together a puzzle: The big picture forms after all the little pieces come together. There are many benefits of engaging in the storyboarding process. Storyboarding can help you:
• Stimulate your team to think about your project’s steps.
• Serve as a roadmap and guide the work of the team.
• Identify project gaps early in the process.
• Depict your team’s story in an organized way.
• Highlight your accomplishments.
• Serve an example or resource that can be shared with other organizations.
What are the tips for developing a storyboard?
In general, the storyboard format can be flexible and meet the needs of your project. Before starting a storyboard, decide on key sections or headers. For example, many Quality Improvement storyboards include four main sections: Plan, Do, Study and Act. Each section also provides information on several key components that are usually part of any QI project. For example:
• Plan: includes a description of a situation or a problem, identifies potential strategies and articulates the intended end results.
• Do: describes activities to address the identified problem.
• Study: provides an overview of the results as well as what has been learned through this process. Specifically, the goal of this section is to demonstrate whether implemented changes resulted in improvement.
• Act: describes plans for sustaining the observed improvements as well as changes to the utilized strategies if they were not quite effective.
Effective storyboards are written in a clear, concise and readable style so the reader can easily understand the project and the steps or activities implemented along the way. Be sure to use images when you are creating your storyboard. The effective use of images will improve the look of your storyboards and attract readers. When used with narrative, images can communicate more than words alone.
Make sure your key messages stand out. This can be done by using bullet points. Showcasing your experience or creative approaches used in your project is another great way to call attention. Give readers a reason to continue reading your storyboard. View two example storyboards about Improving Access to Prenatal Care
from the Kansas Health Institute.
To learn more about storyboards, view the following presentations from Tatiana Lin:
Has your health department created effective storyboards? Share you experiences and examples by adding a comment below.