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Creative Career Path

The Magic of Storyboard2010.04.21

    The Magic of Storyboard

    How do you convey a life lesson? If you want the lesson to penetrate rather than just pass people by, you need to find a better way to tell it.


    Preaching at people may be the least effective way of teaching. A self-righteous tone can be self-defeating. It’s not that words lack the power, but rather that emotion and attitude can so easily overrule them and convey a contrary message.


    Story is far and away the best way to convey a lesson. Parable and example have always had the power to move and inspire. Stories captivate people of all ages, and somehow never get old.


    Hollywood moves millions through the power of story. Even bad films seem to have the power to draw an audience, largely through the expectation of seeing a good story. The domestic and foreign markets for manga are massive, again attesting to the power of story.


    Each of these media are the refined results of what started as a storyboard, a sequence of graphic images and text used to pre-visualize a motion picture, comic, or presentation.


    The process of storyboarding is generally credited to Disney Studios in the early 1930s. It started with scenes from a story sketched on separate pieces of paper, and then posted for editing and visualizing the sequence. The process took hold, and eventually was adapted for the creative process in films, education, and business.


    It is not surprising that in Japan, the mecca of manga, storyboarding has a history dating deep into history. Kamishibai (paper drama) was used in Buddhist temples in Japan in the 12th century to convey moral lessons to the illiterate through picture scrolls. The custom evolved and developed over the centuries as a form of teaching through entertainment. Kamishibai storytellers used to travel between villages with a portable stage, attracting audiences with wooden clappers, and narrating stories with a series of illustrated wooden boards.


    Modern forms of the Kamishibai have evolved into manga, motion pictures, and slide presentations. Abuse of the media has led to popular criticisms of the process, sometimes described as death by powerpoint. However, these criticisms are not aimed at the use of storyboard, but rather the forced substitution of information for story, leading to fatigue, boredom, and metaphorical death.


    Three of the best books which address the problem and the solution well are:



    In addition to setting a high but achievable standard for presenting visual information, each of these authors places a high value on story, the essential ingredient which all too often is missing in modern presentations.


    Going a step further it is possible to return to the roots of the process. It is where story meets manga that you get the magic of storyboarding, which has the power to convey life lessons and change people.


    I experienced first-hand the power of manga to capture and convey an experience, in the form of a short auto-biography of what drew me to and kept me in Japan (


    This manga was created in collaboration with a company called TREND-PRO ( Their impressive list of corporate, government, and academic clients demonstrates that many others have discovered the power of manga and story to convey lessons in employee education, product literature, investor relations, recruiting, event promotion, and advertising.


    Many have a story to tell, but reach an impasse when it comes to telling it. We have begun a project to meet regularly with business owners and executives to explore the Power of Story to Change Companies. This story has just begun, and of course, is to be continued...


    William Reed






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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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