Presentation Slide Design – Stop Animations Spoiling Your Presentation

Presentation slide design - animation examplePowerPoint, Keynote, and Skyrocket can create some great visual aids.  Sadly, many presenters have never been taught the principles of presentation slide design.

In this post, I’d like to focus on one element of presentation slide design called animation.  Animation is  the ability to control how the words and images on your slide appear.  It allows you to show your information bit by bit, instead of  all-in-one-go.     Animation effects can be applied to text, charts and images.

Presentation slide design – The benefits of animation

  • It avoids swamping your audience with too much information at one time
  • Allows you to control what the audience is looking at

Presentation slide design – Some common animation pitfalls

Too much animation
Some speakers have a habit of going overboard with their animations. This is not clever and it will turn your audience off.   Use animation sparingly and only to improve the effectiveness of your slides.

No animations at all
Too little animation can be equally bad.  I have written before about the benefits of  banishing  bullet points, but if you must have them, careful use of animation can cut the damage they do.  Animation can make each bullet point appear in turn when you click your remote, so you can control what the audience sees.

Animating the wrong things
Only animate things that need to be animated.  The other week I saw a presentation where the speaker had animated the appearance of their logo and the title of every slide as well as their body text.  At each slide changes, we all had to wait in silence, as their logo, then their title, and then their text appeared.  Please don’t animate logos, and slide titles.

Poor animation timing
Programs like PowerPoint and keynote give you the option to automate your animations.  Instead of using the option, “on click” to advance, you can automatically advance the effect after a specified time.  Personally, I am not a fan of automated effects because you change the timing during the presentation.  In the example given in point 3 above, every animation effect was automated, and the timing for each was set to 3 seconds.   As soon as he started, the presenter realized that this was way too slow, but it was too late to do anything about it.  If you are going to use automated timings, test them first, but better still keep it manual.

Use of irritating animation effects
When you start to explore the animation options in your presentation slide design software you’ll find a bewildering range of options.  Some presenters are tempted to include as many different effects as possible and the result is visual overload.  I recommend you get to know a few useful animations and ignore the rest.  The most useful ones are Appear and Wipe.

The appear effect causes a selected element of  text, or a selected  image or shape to appear when you click.  The wipe effect causes the text or object to wipe in from either side, top or bottom, depending on your specific wipe direction setting.  If presenting to a Western audience, I recommend using the ‘wipe from the left’ setting.  This is because we normally read text from left to right.  I also sometimes use wipe from the bottom, as in the example slide at the top of the page.

For more information on how to set up an animation in PowerPoint click here.

For information how to create animations in Keynote click here.

In conclusion

Animation effects can enhance your presentation, but only if used with care.  I hope that these presentation slide design tips will help you create more powerful and persuasive presentations.  If you have any further questions or comments about presentation slide design or any other related topics,  please do leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

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Gavin Meikle
The Presentation Doctor.

About 

Gavin Meikle is "The Communication Doctor" and his mission is to change the way the world communicates for good.

He runs workshops and courses as well as 1:1 mentoring programmes, helping business owners, managers and executives achieve personal and professional success.

Gavin is based in Hampshire in the UK.

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