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Should you use animation in your next PowerPoint?

Should you use animation in your next PowerPoint?

PowerPoint animation is a tool that any designer would benefit from having at the ready. But depending on the unique details of the presentation, your skill level, and the way the PowerPoint will be used and shared, there are times when it’s not the best option.

So the next time you are thinking about adding animation to PowerPoint slides, consider these questions to help you decide!

Are you comfortable with PowerPoint animation?

This may seem obvious, but if it's a high stakes presentation you may not want to experiment just yet. Save your PowerPoint animations for a time when you can practice.

Will there be enough time for review?

Even if you are a skilled PowerPoint user, animations can be finicky. If you are on an accelerated timeline (most presentations tend to be), you need to make sure there will be time to double check any animations once the last of the content edits are done.

What is the scope of your PowerPoint?

PowerPoint animation is great, but if resources are limited, your time might be better spent crafting a strong story and tight content. Even the best animations are generally supplemental, not essential. You'll get a much greater return on your time investment by crafting better content than you will from adding animations.

Is the animation functional or aesthetic?

In formats like presentations, where you want your audience laser-focused on your content, it's best to avoid unnecessary visual elements that only exist to look nice. Instead, only add visuals if they add something to your content, or help support your big idea and story.

That means, for example, that circles move when they are highlighting something, not just flying around the screen for visual flair.

Did they ask for animation?

It’s a great idea to ask your client, or whoever will be giving the presentation, what they want to use. Presenters have their own preferences, and some may not want the extra flair. Additionally, different audiences have different expectations: for example, financial types and board of directors may want to stick to the point, as opposed to sales and marketing teams who see animation more favorably.

Will your presentation run on a reliable machine?

An older machine might struggle to render an animation-intense deck, or an older version of PowerPoint might limit or simply not render some animation types from newer versions.

You could also check if the presenter will be using their own computer, as opposed to a teammate's or one provided on-site. Sometimes transferring the file to a different computer can cause unexpected font and image issues, so you'll want to make sure the computer has the right elements installed.

How many cooks are in the kitchen?

If you are collaborating with a large team, the chances of broken animations increase exponentially. You’ll need to be sure that you are able to review and test before the presentation is given, and even then there are risks.

How many people are presenting?

It’s not uncommon to see presentations with 10 different people presenting over the course of a few hours, each with their own styles of presenting and animation preferences. This can lead to challenges with consistency: if you heavily animate a certain section, the effects ripple out to the other presenters. Some want to emulate it. Some want something completely different. Some would prefer no animation at all.

For presentations with a lot of moving parts, it can be best to minimize or remove animation altogether.

Will it be ported to any other form?

If your presentation needs to be converted at any point, chances are high your animation will get messed up. This means Keynote, Google slides, even good old fashioned paper.

These questions aren’t intended to dissuade you from using animation. We’re going for the opposite, actually! They are simply considerations to keep in mind as you incorporate more PowerPoint animations.

Is this a virtual or in-person presentation?

Animations can often appear choppy and partial when viewed over a stream. If the file is intended for a virtual presentation, or even both formats, it's best to minimize the amount of animations, both in terms of quantity and complexity.

For in-person presentations, animations will generally run smoothly, but it's still best to test it out in the actual setting if possible.

When it works, it works

These questions aren't intended to dissuade you from using animation. We're going for the opposite, actually! They are simply considerations to keep in mind as you incorporate more PowerPoint animations into your slides.

And i you have more questions, check out our deep dive into all things PowerPoint animation!

Update (03/24): we’ve revised this article to add some new details on deciding when to use PowerPoint animations

Looking for more information about presentation skills and beyond? Check out our resources for expert advice and tested strategies.

About the author

Kyle Kartz is the Creative Director of Storytelling at VerdanaBold. He is an expert copywriter and strategist, with experience driving major campaigns for global brands in multiple industries. He is passionate about communications, the outdoors, and cooking.



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