The old adage ‘less is more’ could definitely be applied to the use of PowerPoint animation. Using a lot of different animations can distract from your overall message and make your presentation looks amateurish and messy. Used well, and this can mean adding some complex animations (and triggers, more on those later), it can draw attention to your key points, look really nifty and leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Before you begin
Before you start adding animations it is best to make sure the content of your presentation is finalised. Once animation is added it becomes harder to make changes. A useful tip is to add text directly to shapes where possible instead of adding textboxes on top of shapes – this makes animation easier as you are working with shapes and not groups.
With your content in place you should start by opening the Animation Pane. You will find this in the Animations tab. Within this pane you will see all of your animations in the order they will play.
If you are adding a lot of animations to a slide, go the Selection Pane (on the Home tab, go to the far right and click on the Select dropdown menu, click on Selection Pane) and rename the objects you are going to animate (these names will then also appear on the shapes in the Animation Pane) – this will make it easier to animate in sequence and a lot easier for anyone else who works on the presentation later to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
Which animations look good?
As a rule, we tend to stick to simpler, cleaner PowerPoint animation such as Fade, Fly In/Out, Wipe In/Out and Appear/Disappear. We also try to avoid having to click through the animations by setting them to appear either With Previous or After Previous.
Remember, people watch what moves. They notice what is different. Make sure what you are saying matches watch you are showing with an animation. You want the flow of animation to match the flow of what you are saying.
Applying multiple animations to one object
Instead of using the animations ribbon to apply animations in the Animations tab, make a habit of using the Add Animation button instead – otherwise any animation you have previously applied to an object will be overwritten.
To easily copy animations from one object to another, use the Animation Painter in the Animations tab. This works in the same was as the Format Painter and will bring over all of the animation effects and timings.
The clue is in the name! A trigger makes something happen. For example, if you want additional text to be hidden on your slide until you click an object – you can create a trigger to do this. Some examples of how triggers can be used can be seen in this short video:
Using transitions to animate
Transitions can create the illusion of animations. The Push transition (set to come in from the right) can create the effect of a timeline, as shown in this video.
In the right hands the Morph transition can mimic sophisticated animations, you can see this in action here.
When not to use PowerPoint animation
The key here is not to use animation if it is going to distract from your message. Avoid using animation for presentations used in webinars – because the slides and visuals are streamed to all members at once including members whose internet connections may not be fast or stable meaning the animations lag or do not play at all.