Slide Objects


Authors Background

NPD Framework

Slide Design

Slide Objects


Decorative Text
Diagramming Text
Other slide Objects


To understand the NPD framework and more specifically the pictorial storyboard it is important to have a clear understanding of objects. The easiest way to get a feel for objects and what they can do for the communiqué is to draw an analogy between them and actors. For example, once we have written a screenplay or a play the next phase is to audition actors to play the characters in our story. Depending upon what that story is we may want an individual who is of a particular sex, we may be interested in someone in a certain age group, etc. The persona of the character is defined in the story and will dictate the appropriate individual to play the part.

A story though is much more than just actors it has scenery, a music score, lighting effects, camera function and so forth. These characteristics depend upon the story being told. In an action movie, the music, may have a very rapid tempo. Whereas a comedy will employ a much different sound.

The actors within the scene (scenery) also have positioning on the screen or stage. It’s much easier to visualize this concept of positioning if we consider a play. In a play, actors may appear near the front of the stage, other actors are towards the back of the stage, some in the middle and so on. However, it is extremely important to the story line where the actors are positioned when they deliver their lines. Objects have the same characteristic however in a presentation we are dealing with a two-dimensional space. In this medium the objects are layered on top, middle or bottom. Those on the bottom or middle may be partially obscured from the audience. Thus, it is essential in our design of the pictorial storyboard that we define the layering and positioning of each object.

Lastly, not all actors or characters appear on the stage at the same time nor do they exit simultaneously from the stage. This timing is analogous to animation of our objects. Similarly, the objects in the communiqué should not appear simultaneously. That would be equivalent to all actors in the play standing on stage even though their character was not participating, at this point, in the story. The audience would be confused as to who those individuals were and what their function was.

To illustrate a comparable event in a multimedia presentation, consider a static slide that displays five bullets and then has a 3-minute audio. This will force the user to listen to the audio files while staring at the five bullets they have read. Even if the audio tempo is interesting, the voice pitch varied, the viewer will become disinterested. In fact, the entire presentation may suffer from this one design flaw. Why does this occur? Essentially the viewer has read the slides very quickly and now is listening to the narration. They have assumed, rightly or wrongly, that the content displayed was already conveyed in the presentation while they were reading. This phenomenon relates to how humans, speak, hear, read and write words.  We can speak approximately between 125-150 words per minute while hearing roughly 440 to 800 words per minute (depending upon other activities being performed).  Yet we can read anywhere from 150 – 200 words per minute while transcribing between 30 and 70 words per minute. This means the listener will only have to utilize 25% of their cognitive abilities to listening to the audio.

However, if the slide to slide design embeds object animation that is synchronized with the audio then essentially the monologue is broken up by the motion on the screen. The net effect is to provide a stop and go channel to our continuous audio channel and control the user’s attention and enhance their retention.

Thus, it's extremely important that we understand how animation works and design a well-tuned object timeline with an appropriate entrance and exit of the objects synchronized with the content being conveyed.


Slide objects bring your story alive. Think of objects as:

  • actors
  • the scenery
  • the music
  • sound effects
  • emphasis
  • timing
  • entrance onto the 'stage'
  • exit from the 'stage'
  • ...

Object types:

  • Text (Font, color, animation, position, spacing, bullet, list, …)
  • Decorative Text (in PP think WordArt)
  • Diagramming Text (in PP think SmartArt)
  • Graphics
  • Images
  • Charts (style – pie, histogram)
  • Tables
  • Audio (Slide and if available slide object)
  • Video
  • Other slide Objects (Depending upon software and device tools selected)