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Advanced PowerPoint Animation Techniques

For many people, a presentation just isn’t complete until they’ve added slide transitions and other animated effects. These can certainly pump up the "wow" factor in your work, and any presentation that seeks the "knockout" adjective had better incorporate some animation into its design. But animation is a complex business, and without a few tricks up your sleeve, even an Office guru can ruin his or her presentation by blowing the animation stage. This section helps you prevent that fate by showing you a number of advanced but very useful tricks and techniques not only for doing animation well, but for getting the most out of this powerful PowerPoint feature.

Animation Do’s and Don’ts

Before you get to the tricks and techniques, it’s worth taking a second to put this animation business into some perspective. After all, advanced knowledge of animation is one thing, but putting that knowledge to good use is quite another. Here are some do’s and don’ts to bear in mind when adding the animation touches to your presentations:

  • Do use transitions. They add visual interest, give the audience a short break between slides, and help you control the pacing of your presentation.

  • Don’t overuse transitions. Nobody will object to fade-ins, dissolves, and other simple transitions, but don’t have multiple objects flying in from all corners of the screen.

  • Do keep your audience in mind when planning your animations. In a flashy presentation for sales and marketing types, you can probably get away with more elaborate animations; in a no-nonsense presentation to board members, animations and transitions should be short and sweet.

  • Don’t use a number of different transitions and animations in a single presentation. Just as your slide text looks awful if you use too many fonts, your presentations will look amateurish if you throw every effect in the book at your audience.

  • Do keep your animations snappy, particularly transition effects. It may not seem like a long time, but if your slide transitions are taking 10 or 15 seconds or longer, your audience’s mood will soon degenerate from frustration to anger to outright hostility. Unless you’re presenting to kids (who, naturally, prefer elaborate animations), the transition from one slide to another should never take more than a few seconds.

  • Don’t overshadow your content. The goal of any animation should always be to either highlight a slide element or to keep up your audience’s interest. If you start adding effects just for fun, I guarantee your audience will stop having fun and will start looking for the nearest exit.

Applying Built-In Animation Effects

PowerPoint comes with an extensive library of built-in animations, which often means that you can apply your slide transitions and other effects with just a few mouse clicks. PowerPoint gives you two ways to apply built-in animations:

  • Apply a slide transition.

  • Apply an animation scheme.

Applying a Slide Transition

Here are the steps to follow to apply a slide transition to one or more slides:

  1. Use the Slides pane or Slide Sorter to select the slides you want to work with.

  2. Select Slide Show, Slide Transition. The Slide Transition pane appears, as shown in Figure 3.17.

  3. Figure 3.17

    Figure 3.17 Use the Slide Transition pane to apply a built-in slide transition to the selected slides.

  4. Use the Apply to Selected Slides list to select the transition effect you want.

  5. In the Modify Transition group, customize the transition with the following lists:

  6. Speed—Select the transition speed: Slow, Medium, or Fast.

    Sound—Select the sound that you want to play during the transition.

  7. In the Advance Slide group, choose the method by which you want to move to the next slide:

  8. On Mouse Click—Activate this check box to advance the slide when you click the mouse.

    Automatically After—Activate this check box to advance the slide after the minutes and/or seconds that you specify in the spin box.

  9. If you decide you want to use the transition for all the slides in the presentation, click Apply to All Slides. (If you don’t click this option, the transition applies to only the selected slides.)

Applying an Animation Scheme

I’ve been using the term animation rather loosely up to this point, so this is a good time to tighten up our terminology. In the PowerPoint lexicon, a transition is a visual (and sometimes auditory) effect that plays during the switch from one slide to another; an animation is a visual effect applied to a specific slide element, such as the slide title or bullet text.

An animation scheme is a preset collection of animations that apply to the slide text, including the title, bullets, and paragraphs. Here are the steps to follow to apply an animation scheme to one or more slides:

  1. Use the Slides pane or Slide Sorter to select the slides you want to work with.

  2. Select Slide Show, Animation Scheme. The Slide Design, Animation Schemes pane appears, as shown in Figure 3.18.

  3. Figure 3.18

    Figure 3.18 Use the Slide Design, Animation Schemes pane to apply a preset animation scheme to the text of the selected slides.

  4. Use the Apply to Selected Slides list to select the animation scheme you want.

  5. If you decide you want to use the scheme for all the slides in the presentation, click Apply to All Slides. (If you don’t click this option, the scheme applies only to the selected slides.)

Creating a Custom Animation

The prefab animation schemes look great and save you tons of time, but they have one very large drawback: you can’t customize them directly. For example, you can’t change properties such as the speed and direction of the animation. Also, some of the schemes don’t work the way you might want. For example, one highly requested visual effect is to display bullet points one at a time. There is an animation scheme named Fade In One by One, but it’s not particularly useful because you can’t control when each bullet appears, and second- and third-level items appear along with their corresponding top-level item.

To solve all these problems, and to create unique and visually appealing animations, you need to design them yourself using PowerPoint’s Custom Animation pane.

Following are the general steps for creating a custom animation:

  1. Select the slide you want to work with. (You can work with only one slide at a time for a custom animation.)

  2. Select Slide Show, Custom Animation. The Custom Animation pane appears, as shown in Figure 3.19.

  3. Figure 3.19

    Figure 3.19 Use the Custom Animation pane to apply a custom animation effect to the objects on the selected slide.

  4. Click the slide object you want to animate. Note that you can apply animations to any object, including the title and text placeholders, individual bullets or paragraphs (select the bullet or paragraph text), and drawing layer objects such as text boxes, AutoShapes, clip art, and pictures.

  5. Click Add Effect and then select one of the following effects categories:

  6. Entrance—These effects control how the object comes onto the slide when the slide first appears.

    Emphasis—These effects alter various text properties, including boldface, italic, size, and color.

    Exit—These effects control how the object goes off the slide when you move to the next slide.

    Motion Paths—These effects control the path that the object follows when it comes onto and goes off the slide.

  7. Modify the effect. The available modifications vary with the chosen effect.

  8. To change the order in which the animations occur, select the object and then use the Re-Order arrows to move the object up or down in the animation order.

  9. To view the animation, you have two choices:

    • Click Play to play all the animations without interaction.

    • Click Slide Show to start the slide show and play the animations with interaction.

Figure 3.20 shows a slide with a custom animation applied. Notice the numbers attached to some of the slide objects. These numbers represent the slide’s animation order. That is, when you click once, the animation effect runs for the objects with a 1 beside them; when you click a second time, the animation runs for the objects labeled with 2, and so on.

Figure 3.20

Figure 3.20 A slide with a custom animation added.

The sections that follow take you through some specific examples of custom animations.

Making Bullets Appear One at a Time

I mentioned earlier that one of the animations I’m asked about most often is making bullets appear individually, usually in response to a mouse click. This is a very useful presentation trick because it gives you full control over the display of your bullets. By animating bullets individually, you can

  • Prevent your audience from being distracted by bullets beyond the one you’re currently discussing.

  • Hide bullets that contain "surprise" results until you’re ready to present them.

  • Place extra emphasis on the individual bullets because they don’t enter the slide individually as a group.

  • Add pizzazz by giving each bullet a different animation effect. (Although, of course, you want to be careful here that you don’t induce animation overload on your audience.)

With the Custom Animation pane displayed, follow these steps to animate your bullets individually:

  1. Select the placeholder that contains the bullets.

  2. Select Add Effect, Entrance, and then click the animation effect you want to use. PowerPoint applies the effect to all the bullets and displays the animation order numbers beside each bullet.

  3. Click the expand contents button (two downward pointing arrows; see Figure 3.20). PowerPoint displays all the bullets, as shown in Figure 3.21.

  4. Click the bullet you want to work with.

  5. To change the animation effect for the bullet, select Change, Entrance, and then select the effect you want.

  6. If you want the bullet to appear only when you click the mouse, change the Start option to On Click. PowerPoint renumbers the animation order.

  7. Customize the other effect settings, as needed.

  8. Repeat steps 3–6 to configure the animation for each bullet.

Figure 3.21

Figure 3.21 After you apply an effect to the entire placeholder, expand the contents to see each bullet.

Animating a Chart by Series or Category

If you use charts in your presentations—either charts imported from Excel or created with Microsoft Graph—you can animate the components of the chart. Depending on the chart, you have up to five animation possibilities:

  • As one object—Adds the entire chart.

  • By series—Adds each data series to the chart one series at a time. For example, if you have a bar chart that shows quarterly sales figures by region, you could display the bars one quarter at a time.

  • By category—Adds each data category to the chart one category at a time. For example, if you have a bar chart that shows quarterly sales figures by region, you could display the bars one region at a time.

  • By element in series element—Adds each data marker in each series to the chart one marker at a time. For example, if you have a bar chart that shows quarterly sales figures by region, you could display the bars for each region one quarter at a time.

  • By element in category—Adds each data marker in each category to the chart one marker at a time. For example, if you have a bar chart that shows quarterly sales figures by region, you could display the bars for each quarter one region at a time.

Here are the steps to follow to animate a PowerPoint chart object:

  1. Insert the chart into a PowerPoint slide.

  2. Select the chart object.

  3. Select Slide Show, Custom Animation.

  4. Click Add Effect, Entrance, and then select the animation effect you want.

  1. In the animation list, drop down the chart animation’s menu and then select Effect Options, as shown in Figure 3.22. PowerPoint displays a dialog box of options for the effect.

  2. Figure 3.22

    Figure 3.22 To animate the chart, select Effect Options.

  3. Display the Chart Animation tab.

  4. In the Group Chart list (see Figure 3.23), select the animation option you want.

  5. Figure 3.23

    Figure 3.23 Use the list in the Chart Animation tab to select the chart components to animate.

  6. If you want to include the chart’s gridlines and legend in the animation (these appear first), activate the Animate Grid and Legend check box.

  7. Click OK.

Animating Individual Chart Components

The chart animation is slick, to be sure, but it has some limitations. The most glaring is that it doesn’t work with certain effects, such as Fly In and Crawl In. Also, you can’t tie the animation of the legend and the data series together. For example, if you’re animating the chart by series, it might be nice sometimes to have the corresponding legend text enter along with its series.

To work around these problems, you need to drill down to another level so that you work with the chart components directly. To do that, you need to ungroup the chart so that the chart becomes a series of graphical objects, each of which you can animate individually. Follow these steps to ungroup a chart:

  1. Right-click the chart.

  2. Select Grouping, Ungroup. PowerPoint asks you to confirm that you want to convert the chart to a group.

  3. Click Yes. PowerPoint converts the chart to a group.

  4. Right-click the chart.

  5. Select Grouping, Ungroup. PowerPoint ungroups the chart’s components.

Figure 3.24 shows an ungrouped chart with each component selected.

Figure 3.24

Figure 3.24 Ungroup the chart to animate its components individually.

You’re now ready to animate the components:

  1. Select Slide Show, Custom Animation.

  2. Click an empty part of the slide to ensure that no components are selected.

  3. Select the chart components you want to work with. For example, Figure 3.25 shows the ungrouped chart with 14 objects selected:

    • For each data marker, the three visible sides are selected. (2D charts are much easier to animate because you have to select only a single "side" for each data marker.)

    • In the legend, the North text and its bullet are selected.

  4. Right-click any of the selected objects and then select Grouping, Group. PowerPoint converts the selected objects to a single group. This enables you to easily select the objects later if you need to make changes to the animation.

  5. Click Add Effect, Entrance, and then select the animation effect you want.

  6. Customize the other effect settings, as needed.

  7. Repeat steps 2–6 to configure the animation for other components.

Figure 3.25

Figure 3.25 Select the individual objects that you want to animate.

Animating an Organization Chart

If you use organization charts in your presentations, you can animate the charts to display the hierarchy in various ways:

  • As one object—Adds the entire chart.

  • All at once—Adds all the positions to the chart at once, with slightly different timings for each position.

  • Each branch, shape by shape—Adds each position in each branch to the chart one position at a time.

  • Each level, shape by shape—Adds each position in each level to the chart one position at a time.

  • Level by level—Adds all the positions in each level to the chart, one level at a time.

Here are the steps to follow to animate a PowerPoint organization chart object:

  1. Insert the organization chart into a PowerPoint slide.

  2. Select the organization chart object.

  3. Select Slide Show, Custom Animation.

  4. Click Add Effect, Entrance, and then select the animation effect you want.

  5. In the animation list, drop down the organization chart animation’s menu and then select Effect Options. PowerPoint displays a dialog box of options for the effect.

  6. Display the Diagram Animation tab.

  7. In the Group Diagram list (see Figure 3.26), select the animation option you want.

  8. Figure 3.26

    Figure 3.26 Use the list in the Diagram Animation tab to select the organization chart components to animate.

  9. Click OK.

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