What Makes a Good Slideshow

You’re here because you want to make better slideshows. You might be sick of seeing your company make boring presentations, or you might just want to create an evocative slideshow for your parent’s anniversary. Whatever the case, I’m here to give you some easy tips on how to step up your game when it comes to making slideshows.

There are three keys to turning a decent slideshow into a “WOW, that was amazing, I’m actually crying” slideshow. These three keys are:

1. Story

You can’t have a good slideshow without a somewhat cohesive story. If your audience can’t piece together what’s happening, they’re not going to be happy. This is the most basic element to any presentation, yet we all still see presentations that are out of sequence on occasion.

Think of most movies. At the beginning, there will be an introduction of the characters, followed by conflict. Then there will be more conflict, which will build up to a climax. Following that, there is a resolution and an ending. Now, you may not have characters or conflict in your presentation, but you should keep this basic structure in mind when making your slideshow. Slowly build up to your best material, then “resolve” or slow down to let your audience unwind, then wrap up the slideshow.

For instance, I made a video for my friends when we studied abroad. The first shot of the video was simply a title screen that said “New Zealand 2007.” That was followed by a single group-shot of all the people who were in the video. This was my basic introduction, and it let the viewer know what the rest of the video entailed.

An important element to the story key is transitions. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all seen the PowerPoint presentations where we’re looking at one slide, then the next slide develops from the shape of a star. Now, not all transitions are that tacky – some actually enhance the experience. That being said, I’m not a huge fan of anything that distracts from the story, and I tend to think that most transitions do just that.

2. Visual/Aural Timing

This might seem like a strange concept initially, but it’s definitely something you’ll need to get the feel for if you want to make great slideshows.

Visual/aural timing is important because it means your image is in sync with the sound elements of your slideshow. This is absolutely crucial. Now, if you’re making a PowerPoint presentation about oil derricks in California, this key may not help you too much (unless you’re the editor of “There will be blood.”) But if you’re making a movie about your son’s 1st birthday, this is a great key to take into consideration.

This element really gives you a lot of flexibility. You can completely change the meaning of your story and/or enhance the image on screen by syncing it up with the audio at a specific time.

If your subject strikes a really powerful pose, you’ll want that pose to be shown right when the most “powerful” part of the song comes (e.g. cymbals clashing, loud horns blaring, etc.) If you’re making a remembrance video to be shown at a funeral (sounds morbid, but I’ve done it before), you don’t want an image to be in sync with the wrong lyrics. You want to show a picture of the deceased hugging their child right when Sarah McLachlan sings the line “in the arms of the angel.” It’s more powerful that way, and you’ll get the appropriate response from your audience.

For instance, I once made a slideshow for my cousin who’d just had a baby girl. I had the song “Tiny Dancer” playing along with the images, and right when it hit the chorus and Elton John sings, “Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer,” I had a picture come on of the dad holding his baby girl. If that picture had come on four seconds earlier, it wouldn’t have been nearly as evocative. But because I used the Visual/Aural Timing key, the image was much more moving.

Which brings us to another important issue…? Movement: Should you use it or not? What I mean is, should you have your picture zooming in/out, moving up and down, side-to-side? (NOTE: this element can be incorporated when using iMovie or iPhoto – it’s called the Ken Burns effect)

My answer is: absolutely, but make it interesting. Don’t get lazy and use the same movements over and over. If you’re just alternating between zooming in and zooming out, throw in an occasional side-to-side movement shot. But only do this if it doesn’t detract from the image. For example, if you have a picture of a woman by herself smiling at the camera, a side-to-side movement won’t look too good. Use it when it’s more natural, such as when you have a shot of a long mountain range, or someone running along a beach.

Also, you have to consider the speed of the movements. If it’s a really slow song, you can’t have it zooming in and out really fast, showing each picture for a half second. You want it to match the song. If the song speeds up, you’re not limited to shortening the amount of time the picture is shown. Instead, try zooming in or out of the picture even more. This will make the movement seem faster and more pronounced, which will be consistent with the changing speed of the song.

3. The Right Music

I cannot stress this enough. It is so important to have the right music for a slideshow. It can truly make or break your slideshow, and I’m not even exaggerating. The most important thing you need to realize is that just because you really like a song, it doesn’t mean it will fit well with your slideshow.

“Should I pick a song after I’ve put the slideshow together, or should I edit the slideshow to the song?” Hard to say. Sometimes when I have some video footage, I’ll realize later on that having a song playing in the background will enhance that footage. When I’m compiling a slideshow of pictures, however, I prefer to pick the song and then add the pictures in. This way I can time the pictures with specific parts of the song (e.g. certain lyrics that are reflective of the picture).

Picking a good song is something you’ll have to judge on your own. Whatever emotions you have tied to a song will determine what’s best for you and your audience. Obviously, you don’t want to pick a heavy metal song for a wedding (unless you’re trying to be funny), and you don’t want a song with offensive lyrics (unless the occasion calls for it). I feel the need to bring up these points, but it’s really not my call. This one is in your hands.

Free Download

Download Free Photo Slideshow Maker for Free! To install and use of Free Photo Slideshow Maker will be no harder than downloading it – anyone can achieve their goals without painful learning. 100% free and no strings attached, guaranteed. Start your happy experience with a single click here!