I was presenting recently at a meeting and, as I was fourth on the agenda, I had the opportunity to watch and listen to the presentations of the three preceding speakers. I love to see how others present and how they use, or misuse, PowerPoint. One of the presenters was a lawyer speaking about some complex legal matter which was completely beyond me.
His case wasn’t helped by the fact that his slides were full of words which he insisted on reading out to his audience but that’s not why I am writing this post. In a vain attempt to make his otherwise verbose presentation interesting he decided to use PowerPoint’s custom animation feature to inject some dynamism into his talk. When he clicked his remote for the first slide, the text appeared (all three sentences of it!) and spiralled in until it stopped and we were able to read it. Ugh!
Somehow I just knew that this was just the start and sure enough, the text in his next slide bounced in! Aaarg! Why do people think that animations like this add anything to a presentation. Just because the geeks at Microsoft build it into the programme doesn’t mean to say that you have to use it!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use animations, I’m saying just use them sparingly and please use only the ones that help your message. If you are using them to control the appearance of text on a slide I recommend that you use the “wipe” option and select the “from the left” option. The reason for this is a simple but important one. Most westerners, when they read, scan from left to right. If your animations mimic this natural pattern then they will work better.
Together we can make presentations more effective!