What Event Managers Can Learn from the Film Industry About Storyboarding

How event storyboarding can help you create an engaging journey for your attendees

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From small indie films to Star Wars-sized galactic events, filmmakers rely on storyboards to keep their narrative, themes, and budgets intact. When you’re planning your event why not try using a storyboard to convey your vision and make your event as spectacular as Han Solo climbing into the Millennium Falcon for the first time.


Storyboarding is all about creating the world before you build it. This allows designers, clients, and technicians to have an easy visual guide to use to communicate and collaborate before any details are purchased or created. This can save you a great deal of time, money and headaches along the way.

Storyboarding is all about creating the world before you build it

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For filmmaking, it all begins with laying out the journey of the characters. Where does their journey begin, where will the story take them, and how will their experience have changed them? These important elements should be a part of your event storyboarding, as well. The character’s journey in a film is the same as your attendee’s journey at an event with a clear beginning, middle, and end. And at the end of the journey you and your attendees have hopefully achieved your goals.


User's journey
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If your event were a traveling exhibit to help launch a tequila brand and you were looking to create the look and feel of a cantina, for example, storyboarding can help you not only visually demonstrate many physical elements of the event and their placement, but how your attendee engages with them. How does the attendee approach the space? Where will the product be introduced? This is your opportunity to imagine what elements can be brought in to create an immersive “cantina” experience. Does a band set the scene? When does the attendee first hear the music? At what point in their journey do they discover a dimly lit corner of the cantina just past the band that would be perfect for recruiting a smuggler to get you to Alderaan? These are all elements that can be developed and shared via storyboarding.


Storyboarding is especially helpful at a larger event like a vehicle trade show. How does the story begin and when does the attendee’s journey really start?

It probably isn’t at your exhibit inside the show. How can you introduce your attendee to the upcoming experience like a movie trailer gets movie-goers hooked months before the movie’s release? It could be something as simple as an invitation announcing the new vehicle sent out pre-show or as specialized as a custom app that teases just enough of the vehicle’s features to get your attendee excited to go on this journey with you.

Attendee's Journey -- trade show directory


When your attendees arrive or register at the event your story can really take-off. Storyboard all of their interactions from sign-ins to marketing collateral to engagement with actual people like a brand ambassador, a bounty hunter or patrolling trooper.


Now that the journey is underway, how will the attendees be lead to the entrance of space port and what will be their introduction and education about the vehicle. A storyboard can help you focus on what is important in each engagement during the journey. Think about what your specific goals are for each experience and interaction along the way. Do you want to highlight the storied history of the Millennium Falcon, so you’ll create models of past starships for the attendee to experience close-up? Or is the goal to wow the tech crowd so you’ll showcase some of the more interesting tech savvy features like sensor-proof smuggling compartments to hide your droids from the Empire in case your ship is captured by the Death Star? Will you need physical droids for this moment in the journey? These are the important questions to ask yourself while storyboarding.


Now that you’ve storyboarded your attendee’s journey with you at the event, how has the journey changed them? Did you reach your goal? If not, go back and work on the storyboard. Take your time planning. You don't need to make the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs. Just focus on telling your story from beginning to end and if you got your delegate to where you wanted them to go. Remember that event planners never fly Solo. Sorry, just really excited about that movie.



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