What is a ”Timeline Story”?
Well, first things first – a timeline does NOT have to be a timeline, just to create some confusion on you from the outset. But it has to be a lineage of some kind, a logical and coherent sequence of events, things or issues.
This is all about emphasizing that sequence of things, which is both a lot like a listicle – in that it has separate parts of the whole story as the primary storytelling vehicle – but is also entirely different insomuch that where a listicle gathers somewhat stochastic facets of an issue to form an entire narrative, a Timeline Story is about crafting a narrative around this sequence of events, this ordered array of things or logical sorting of issues.
So where a listicle would be more like "Five things you didn't know about the Tour de France" a Timeline Story would be "The events that led to the great Tour de France scandal of 1989" (total fiction, this).
So again, a listicle is gathering loosely held together facts and information to fit a narrative – a Timeline Story is about crafting a narrative around a stringent set of events.
When should you use a ”Timeline Story”?
When you need to – or want to – explain something where the sequence is essential. This could be anything from "The events leading up to…" to "The evolution of…", logical sequences that hold the key to a story.
A Timeline Story comes with a promise of this sequence, so make sure that your script delivers on that. So, don't overuse it and create "false" logic, there will be enough stories about your business and the history of it that has this pure logical sequence of things and will translate into a movie with the added narrative effect of a timeline.
One thing to experiment with is whether or not you should give the reader the "outcome" of "final state" of the timeline before or after the actual sequence. There is a lot of merit to both ways of thinking, and they perhaps serve different purposes so if you set out to create a high-retention unveiling of something you would save that "outcome" until after you've revealed the route to it.
But if you instead are trying to create a deeper understanding of an issue that has this logical sequence, then the sequence in itself is probably more useful as a sort of "how did we get here"-section.
What's in the template?
Intro and preparation: Use the intro and the next couple of slides to introduce what this sequence of things is all about and more than anything: Why it matters.
You could expand this section quite a bit if needed, just remember that you will probably have viewers that expect that timeline, so don't leave them hanging too long.
Timeline section: Use this section to very methodically unveil the timeline (or logical progression) that make up your main focus of this movie. There are few different text fields to use – make sure that you are consistent in what information goes where so a timestamp is in the same field for each slide and so on.
Wrapup and outro: Use this section – and expand if need be – to deliver either a summary of the timeline or the actual outcome of it. As discussed earlier, this could be either way, and you should try and put some thought into how you use this story template.