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Animating PowerPoint objects and slides

Animation can enhance a presentation by:

  • Complementing a message. A bullet point that says "Revenues are skyrocketing" can be followed by picture of a rocket animated to "take off" across the slide.
  • Communicating a message visually that is difficult to capture in words. For example, an animation can show a sequence of events that would be difficult to describe in bullet points.
  • Controlling what the audience is focusing on. For example, you can reveal bullet points as you discuss them on a slide, so that your audience is not "reading ahead."
  • Creating an element of surprise and excitement.

You can animate objects, text, and elements of a chart. You can configure entrance animation (how the object appears), emphasis animation (what the object does once it is in place on the slide) and exit animation (how the object leaves the slide). PowerPoint even allows you to create motion paths, which provide precise control over the movement of an object.

For each animation, you can control the order and timing of the event. By default, objects animate on a mouse click by the presenter, but you can configure animation events to occur automatically, with specified delays between one event and the next, or using triggers, which enable high levels of interactivity and control over the slide and its animations.

Finally, you can attach sounds to animations, which allows you to create sound effects or music to enhance the animation.

With the extraordinary number of animation effects and configurations at hand, there are two major things you should know:

  • You will love PowerPoint 2003. If you are used to older versions of PowerPoint (2000 and earlier), and if you like to use animation in your presentations, you will love PowerPoint 2003. Microsoft has added superb animation capabilities.
  • Over-use of animation is abuse of your audience. Like anything, "too much of a good thing" can be bad. Don't overuse animation. Be sure that the quantity, variety, and types of animation effects you create are appropriate for the goals of the presentation, the message, and the audience. A formal business presentation, for example, is rarely an appropriate place to configure dozens of animation effects. Use animations to help your audience follow along, understand, and stay awake. Don't make them sea-sick.
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