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Telling a Story with Your Slide Show

Posted September 20th, 2009 by Chris

Here are some tips and techniques for telling a good story with your slide show.


Choose a narrative to build your show around. This can be, and often is, solely according to linear time, but there are other ways to do it. If you have multiple subjects, tell each persons story in order, or follow one person into a big event, and another person away from it. Remember, the story is what actually happened, the plot is the way in which you choose to tell that story.

Music and Sound

Use music to establish the proper mood, something that’s appropriate to the themes of the events. For a slide show that covers a whole year, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is a composition that is evocative of the different quarters of the year, iconic and timeless. Or for graduations, remember Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

Don’t forget, too, that the sound function can be used for things other than music. As long as you have a microphone, and recording software, you can add narration. You can also find other sound effects on the web to spice up your slide show.

Effective Effects

Don’t overuse the effects. Think of each picture as a story. Identify the key elements in that picture, and find the best way to reveal them–the best way, in other words, to tell that story. Picking the right effect, and the right transition between photos, will help you tell that story in the best way, just as overusing the effects can distract from your message.


Pacing is essential. People typically only need about 5 seconds to take in a photo, so 12 pictures per minute of show is Photo to Movie’s oft-expressed rule of thumb. But playing with that can be a fun way of building excitement. For earlier, or less important events, a slightly slower pace makes it feel like the beginning of the journey. As the action heats up, make it faster and faster. A big finish might be a really quick review, at 2 or 3 photos per second, of all the pictures you’ve used in that part of your slide show.

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