To animate or not to animate? That is the question. When it comes to giving movement to your visual aids, many doubts arise: should I animate my slides? In which cases is it recommendable? What will animations bring to my exposition? What kind of animations will fit my communication needs? In this article, we will see how you can make your presentation come alive with meaning and purpose. Have a look at our 6 pieces of advice to use animations in the best possible way.
Chose what elements to animate
PowerPoint, Google Slides, and other presentation programs offer you a wide variety of animation effects. Among them, we find the entrance, emphasis, exit, and motion paths effects, as well as different sorts of slide transitions. Most of them are really easy to use and it is, therefore, tempting to apply them both to your text and to your objects (shapes, graphics, and pictures, for instance). The first question we should ask ourselves is: what is worth animating? If it adds value to your message, go for it! Remember your message is king and you need to convey it clearly. By animating certain visual or textual information, you can lead your audience to a better understanding of your ideas. Let’s take a few examples: you can highlight new or difficult words with an emphasis effect to point out the importance of the concept; you can apply a blurry fade-in effect to an image if you want to create suspense as to the content of your picture; you can also use a motion path effect to give dynamism to a specific object, your logo for instance.
Keep it simple
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. Let’s take Leonardo de Vinci’s word for it. Just because you can animate everything easily doesn’t mean you have to do it. An excess of animations can be counterproductive. Indeed, it can distract the public from your speech and the message you want to deliver. Your visual aids can look messy and all over the place if you don’t limit your animations to clear, simple, concise, and meaningful ones. Most times, a simple yet forceful image will not need any movement to provoke the expected reaction in your attendees. Try to use your common aesthetic sense to realize when too much animation can damage your message or, on the contrary, if this image or that text would benefit from an effect.
Too many kinds of animation inside the same slide deck can be harmful. The key idea is to catch everybody’s attention without distracting them. If you change your animation style on every slide, it will be more disrupting than efficient. You should be as well-organized and consistent in your slides as you are in your speech. For example, if you choose a specific type of slide transition, you should stick to it and definitely not change it randomly. If you have chosen to highlight the most important word of your first slide with, let’s say, a pulse effect, stick to the same effect for the following slides. Consistency means clarity and organization, values that are definitely necessary when it comes to presentations.
Take time into account
Let’s not kid ourselves: movement is necessary for presentations! This includes your own movements on stage or in the room and also the movement of your voice, that is your intonation. All these movements must reflect the direction of your ideas. The same goes for your slides. If you have to give a long presentation, don’t be static: animations can indeed make people more involved and absorbed. Rhythm is therefore important: too slow animations can affect your tempo. On the contrary, they can help your audience focus if used in the right place.
Applying multiple effects to an object can make it come to life. Your words, pictures, diagrams, infographics, and shapes can all be animated in different ways. Don’t hesitate to combine two or more effects to create the exact impression you need to convey. For example, if you want an object to move to a specific place and become bigger as it moves, you can use the grow/shrink tool alongside the motion path effect. Don’t forget to set up the speed of animation with the timing tool. Another example could be creating animation and using the trigger tool, which means your animation will come alive when you click on the specific object. So don’t overdo it but don’t be afraid to create original animations by using simultaneous effects!
Lead your audience’s eyes
Remember animation is a way to attract your public’s attention. When should they look at you and when should they look at the screen? Looking at a bunch of slide animations can be as tiring as watching a static presentation! It’s all about balance and focus. Animations should help encourage this focus. The eye flow, which is the path your eyes naturally take through content, is extremely important. For instance, if you present an image on your slide, why not simply fade it down after a few seconds (instead of making it fly away with an ostentatious effect) so that your audience’s attention can come back to you and the important things you are about to share. Of course, motion paths can be of great use when it comes to leading your eye’s attention. Keep in mind that your audience should look at you most of the time. Your slides and animations are just supporting visual aids to help you convey your message efficiently. The key rule is: “Make your audience look where you want them to look and make them focus on what they need to focus on!
These 6 pieces of advice will help you prepare an amazing slide deck with the right animations. Start preparing your next successful presentation: the slide show must go on… good luck!