But on presentation day, some people in the audience are still looking at their watches, staring out the window, or sneaking in some email responses. What’s missing?
Maybe it’s motion. Humans are actually programmed to pay attention when something moves, in case it might be something fierce. So take advantage of that fact by adding animation to your presentation.
Previously we posted how to animate a PowerPoint presentation and offered some basic techniques for adding small amounts of animation, using standard PowerPoint functionality. Now let’s go a step further by customizing a standard effect.
One of the best uses for animation is adding movement to information graphics. A chart that builds or shows movement really gets the point across! And PowerPoint has simple standard effects that will fly in the pieces of a pie chart, or grow bars and columns. To experiment, try these steps:
- Create an Exploded Pie (so the pieces will be separate). If you prefer a more compact pie, drag the pieces together so they touch.
- Select the chart, then choose the Animations tab.
- From the Animate menu, select Fly In, By Category. That will make the pie pieces enter one at a time. (To see the effect, play the slide.)
- To see a different version, right-click the pie, choose Change Chart Type, and select Column Chart. Use the Animate menu to explore available standard effects for columns.
Standard effects add movement — but there’s a limitation: The effect applies to all the data elements in the chart. So if you want to emphasize a particular data element by having just one pie piece fly in or one column grow, you will have to customize the effect.
It’s not hard! Select the chart and choose Custom Animation (instead of Animate) from the Animation ribbon. Two things will happen: small numbers appear next to the chart, and a Custom Animation pane opens on the right of the workspace. The numbers on the chart show the order in which element effects will play—and the same numbers appear in the Custom Animation pane. (If there is only one numbered element in the pane, click the down chevron beneath the element in order to “unpack” its separate components.)
Next, click the down arrow on the right of each element that you DON’T want to fly in, and choose Remove from the drop menu. This leaves the effect ONLY on the element you want to emphasize. (Notice that the chart title and legend are the first element, so you need to remove the effect here also if you want the complete chart in place before the featured element flies in.)
So that’s it. A simple change, but it can really improve the information value of the chart. And you can also use the Custom Animation toolset to choose a different effect (for example, dissolve instead of fly), slow down or speed up the effect timing, and much more. Look for future posts on the many possibilities of PowerPoint’s Custom Animation feature!
Reminder: Don’t use movement for its own sake. Repetitious slide transitions and flying titles will just bore the audience even more, and make the presentation look amateurish. So it’s important to choose animation opportunities carefully.