Storyboarding Events

by Michael C. Kelly, MA


One facilitation technique to augment brainstorming is a storyboard event. This "top down”1 approach allows a facilitator to select an issue, generate major and supporting headers, and then organize a list of elements under each header. Here is how a storyboard event works:

1. Select an issue

This can be an issue needing definition or a problem requiring solution. For example, a corporate trainer might be faced with an issue requiring them to develop a course on the basics of decision-making. The issue selected here would be entitled decision-making course.

Illustration 1 of 4

We start with a blank surface and a title.

2. Select the headers

Here we create relevant headers that will describe the individual elements. The first header should indicate intention. We can call it purpose or, in the case of the decision-making instructor, syllabus. (2) The last header should be reserved as miscellaneous to capture those elements that don't fit under the preceeding headers.

Illustration 2 of 4

We add broad headers representing the essential themes of the title.

3. Select the elements

Identify the elements under the headers. In the case of our instructor we note the syllabus header has three elements - learning objectives, course outline and completion essentials.

Illustration 3 of 4

At this point we break easy of the headers down into specific points.

For convenience it is useful to include a numbering system to help identify each element. (3)

Illustration 4 of 4

We may want to identify each element of the storyboard with a number.

Unlike affinity events, storyboard events can be time consuming. Nevertheless, they are fun, thought provoking and flexibly devices for effective issue elaboration and problem solving. Enjoy!



  1. Unlike a "bottom up" affinity event storyboards start at the highest conceptual level; lists the major, supporting headers (the forests); and then breaks these down into detailed elements (the trees). Hence ther term "top down."
  2. A syllabus is a compendium containing a course abstract, a list of its subjects and other information.
  3. This is the same numbering system used in project management. There it is referred to as a work breakdown structure or WBS.
© 2011  Michael C Kelly