How to Make a Slideshow: The Ultimate Guide

A slideshow is the oldest electronic way to tell a story. Old slide projectors would have a circular reel of slide photos and would cycle through them one after another. Other slides could be made for presentations. Today, the modern slideshow is a marvel of software and digital image files. You can make a slideshow to tell a story, tease a product, or create a quick and simple how-to. Slideshows are an engaging form of lightweight animation, more interesting than a static image but far less resource-heavy than a video of the same resolution quality.

How do you make a slideshow, and what is the best software for slideshow creation? Let's dive into slideshow basics.

What is a slideshow?

A slideshow is a sequence of images shown one after the next. In traditional slideshows, the images were perfectly still but modern slideshow software now makes it possible to add animations, effects, and soft-zoom, which pans over a photo at various zoom levels to make it appear to be animated. Slideshows are a very efficient way to convey information and can tell a story with very minimal assets and file sizes.

Most people make their first slideshow in grade school preparing presentations and reports. However, slideshows remain an important part of life for both business and personal use for decades after your first history class report using a slideshow. Slideshows are excellent for marketing materials, telling stories in photographs, and creating an informative set of slides, including graphs and facts, depending on what you are using the slideshow for.

Common uses of slideshows

Slideshows are extremely popular and you have probably seen thousands more than you realize. Slideshows catch the eye but do not intrude on the viewing experience. Slideshows can take center stage or they can become a pleasant scrolling background.

Slideshow presentations

Presentations are the most traditional and the most innovative way to use slideshows. You can create slides out of so much more than static photos. You can create informational slides, animated slides, graphs and charts, and even slide through a complex infographic design. Slideshows today are merely a way to cut from one static or mostly static page to another.

You choose the number of slides included in your presentation and how much time you will spend presenting each one.

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Slideshow photo stories

When you go on an adventure and take reams of photos, how do you tell the story of your travels with just the photos? You make a slideshow. Digital picture frames, for example, use very simple slideshow software just to pan through a set of photographs with a sliding transition. Social media makes slide shows an appealing way to share your stories quickly in an eye-catching way with friends.

Slideshow marketing assets

Slideshow ads are also an important element of digital marketing. Social media marketing, in particular, makes slide shows a quick and tidy way to show a collection of appealing assets and ad stories. There are many different and engaging ways to use a slideshow to entertain, inform, and even have a brief conversation with your online audience.

Tips for making an effective slideshow

Making a great slide show for any purpose hinges on a few key principles and techniques.

Tell a story

Your slideshow should tell a story or conversation. It should represent a sequence that your audience can follow and engage in. Many slideshows are stories with pictures of people or places. Others explore a concept or have a quirky conversation with the viewer. Storyboard your slideshow and make sure it flows from beginning to end.

Use photos and captions

A picture is worth a thousand words, and captions are engaging and fun. Combine them to create an interactive slideshow that both shows and tells for the audience. Combine types of media. You may want to use illustrations, charts, or outlined talking points depending on the type of slideshow. However, consider how many senses you can wrap up in a few short rotating images. You can add the captions in post-production in your slideshow program.

Find the right transitions

A slideshow is essentially still images and transitions from one image to the next. So hone your transitions. Play with cuts, cutouts, and fades. Explore which type of transition is right for your slideshow style or choose different transitions based on the point and content of the slideshow itself. Your video editing software will determine your total options for slideshow transitions.

Focus your message

Keep each slideshow short and concise. Focus on the message you want to send or story you want to tell with the slideshow images. This will help create clean, compelling image sets that will catch an audience's attention and encourage social media shares.

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Slideshow basics

What can you do with your slideshow? Slideshows are extremely common in modern media and social media. They can be used to build a business or personal brand, share your story, or follow your career.

Uses for photo slideshows

Photo slide shows began as a way to share photo documentation of travel and other experiences. Today, they are used to display an entire gallery of similar images in sequence. Photo slideshows can be used in commercial websites to spotlight previous work and happy customers or to show off the products of a brand in a quick, eye-catching way.

Photo slideshows can be of people, objects, or places. You can also spice them up with a little image and video editing to add things like captions, overlays, and fun effects. Non-augmented photo slideshows are often seen in digital picture frames which can hold and cycle through a drive of digital photos, and also in hotel marketing assets in beautiful cycling photos of surf and sand.

Utilizing music in a slideshow

Music in a slideshow enhances the experience. You can use slideshow music to set the mood and even change how the images in your slideshow are perceived. There are several types of programs that can help you add music to your slideshow. Clips short enough can use copyrighted music while music for longer slideshows will need to be in the public domain. Several video editing software tools can be used to help you pair music or your own audio tracks to the sound of your slideshow.

Choose audio that is soothing and interesting, but not intrusive. Your slideshow music will usually be there to enhance the experience rather than take center stage. However, sometimes the music you choose can make the video, like choosing the right funny music to a humorous slide show. Or you can set a somber tone with more serious matters across the camera lens.

Common uses for slideshows on Facebook

Facebook slideshows are an incredibly popular form of advertisement. As you may know, Facebook has become a choice ad platform with extremely high levels of organic traffic and a wide range of niche interests. The slideshow you have created can be inserted into the layout space of a single image and the engagement level of an entire video, but more efficient on both fronts.

Many businesses use slideshows on Facebook to spotlight their new products, recent projects, or marketing campaigns. Individuals also use slideshows on Facebook to tell stories and share image collections that look good as a slideshow together.

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Common uses for slideshows on Instagram

Instagram is another great platform for image-based posts and content. In fact, that's the only way you can share. Instagram clutter is common and it can be easy for your business posts to get lost in the feed. A slideshow has a unique way of catching the eye of Instagram viewers without throwing a wrench in the pleasant browsing experience. Viewers have the option to focus longer and catch a few more interesting or beautiful images as part of your slideshow presentation.

Instagram slideshows provide the perfect way to add a quick chapter to your story. You can show the story of a short adventure with a slideshow, share a joke, or make touching slideshow cards to send friends documenting a few choice moments of your past together.

Common uses for slideshows on TikTok

TikTok has always favored fun post-production techniques. A slideshow on TikTok is a quick and easy way to make a fun video without live video editing. You can follow a trend, or create a flip-book stye animation with rapid slideshow frames to create a fun animated video. TikTok slideshows are lightweight and also easier to edit than a set of live video files. If your TikTok filming didn't go as planned or you're just getting started, you can craft a slideshow instead to catch your audience and inspire a few smiles.

Why consider making a slideshow into a video?

Slideshows make great videos, and just a little video editing can add more depth to the images you used. Consider the zoom and scan techniques that make static images seem live because the picture is always faintly moving. Or you can make a complete video of your presentation including slideshow animations on each page.

Slideshows are also packaged differently depending on the slideshow software you chose to use. By creating a video of your slideshow with a flexible editing program like VideoStudio, you can export the file into whatever video format is most compatible with your target platform.

Finally, a video slideshow can be edited more accurately for overlay assets, branding, and other little details that can make a big difference when telling your story or attracting an audience.

What to look for when choosing slideshow creation software

What should you look for in slideshow software, or when planning to make a video of your slideshow? Good slideshow software allows you to sequence images, plan out your transitions, and provides a few tools for frame overlay to improve your slideshow experience. You may want detailed slide show frame editing or the ability to add animations — even trigger-able animations — to specific slides in your show.

When recording your slideshow as video, you want flexible video formats. You will also benefit from the ability to edit your slideshow video in post-production like in VideoStudio. This way, you can tailor your entire slideshow presentation. Great slideshow creation software makes it easy to sequence, transition, edit, and export your slideshow in any way you want.


Slideshows have an incredible amount of use and potential in modern digital marketing. They are both ancient technology and still the best lightweight method to get an audience's attention. Video editing software even makes it easy to tailor your entire slideshow experience into a video production of effects and hooks. If you're ready to build a slideshow for your brand's marketing assets and campaign, start with your message. If you are looking to build a slideshow of your personal photographs and memories, build your story. With the right slideshow editing software, you can create endless compelling presentations.

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