Storyboard Your Meeting to Success

Planners can’t see the future, but this strategy can help them better predict it

Let’s face it: There’s no easy way to anticipate every potential event issue before it happens. Sure, a disaster preparedness plan can help in the wake of unforeseen weather—but a speaker missing his or her flight or attendees forgetting their registration information? That’s not something planners can necessarily plan for.

What they can do is try to map out potential problems through storyboarding.

Storyboarding is a technique often used in the film and advertising industries to outline a campaign or video frame by frame. For meetings, planners can use this practice to write or draw out an event’s full agenda—its “story”—to better visualize meeting flow. 

For example, let’s say your meeting starts at registration. Instead of writing “check in” as step one, think about what that task entails. Can attendees sign in via a self-service registration system, or do they have to check in with event staff? If the latter, consider that having too few registration attendants can result in long lines. So, you’ll want to come up with a solution to minimize the risk of longer lines and a plan to put into place should they happen anyway.

Dissecting your meeting at a granular level might seem like just another step in the planning process, but, as illustrated above, the level of deep thinking that storyboarding requires can give planners the ability to predict and change event outcomes. 

In particular, storyboarding can give insight into these two areas:

1. Time management 

On the surface, a busy schedule makes for a productive meeting, but it’s important to be realistic about timing. If you feel overwhelmed storyboarding agenda items, there’s a good chance guests will feel the same unease during the event. If it seems like too much is going on at once, or you notice that too many big, time-consuming items are slated to happen in succession, it might be a sign to take a step back and reevaluate what’s doable during the meeting’s time frame. 

2. The attendee experience

What will attendees be thinking, feeling, seeing and hearing? Events are a sensory experience, and it’s a planner’s job to make sure that guests don’t get overstimulated. Storyboarding offers planners the unique perspective of walking in attendees’ shoes, so take the opportunity to explore the event through their eyes. Because people have varying preferences, loop other members of your team into the exercise, too. 

Consider it a form of quality assurance: If there is a specific meeting element that seems to trip people up, you’ll know that event aspect needs further refining. For instance, signage is an important way to guide attendees through a multi-room or multi-venue event. If you find that some team members are having trouble understanding the phrasing or language used, you should clarify directions so that attendees won’t get confused—or worse, end up lost—too.