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Presentation Slide Design – Stop Animations Spoiling Your Presentation

Presentation slide design - animation example

PowerPoint, Keynote, and Skyrocket can create some excellent 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 refers to 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. You can apply animation effects 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

#1 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.

#2 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.

#3 Animating the wrong things

Only animate things that need to be animated.  The other week I saw a presentation where the speaker had animated their logo and the title of every slide as well as their body text.  At each slide changed, 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.

#4 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 trigger 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, the person designing the slides had chosen to automate every animation effect and had set the timing for each appearance to three seconds.   The presenter quickly 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.

#5 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 choices.  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 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 compelling 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.

If this post was helpful, please feel free to share it with your family, friends and colleagues using the social sharing buttons below or to the side.  Thanks for reading

Gavin Meikle
The Presentation Doctor.

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