Presentation Design Masterclass: Animation

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hello! Welcome to the seventh module of the Nicework Presentation Design Masterclass. First, we discussed presentation planning and document setup. Then, we tackled the basic building blocks of your design – font choices and colour palettes. Last week, covered how to enhance your narrative using imagery and graphs. Did you get all that?

Today’s post is about the power of animation in presentation design, and how to use it selectively for maximum impact. Are you ready? Let’s go.


When animation is (and isn’t) necessary


Contemplating using animation effects in your presentation? Playing around with PowerPoint animations can be a lot of fun, but its important not to get too carried away with them. Just like all the previously discussed topics, animation effects also need to be implemented with a specific goal in mind. Adding motion is more than just a quirky add-on, and when used correctly you can unlock a valuable tool to aid the flow of your presentation.

Animation is for emphasis/impact

Any animated element will immediately attract the attention of your audience, which is why its considered as an effective way to emphasize key ideas and present them in an impactful way. However, your desire to add animation should never take precedence over the more basic emphasizing tools you have at your disposal (ie. size, placement, contrast and colour).

Animation should enhance understanding of the narrative

When it comes to systematic and chronological ideas, animation really helps to add rhythm and flow to your narrative. Adding motion allows you to introduce elements in sequence, where you can break your information into bite-size pieces to help the audience understand how it all comes together to form the bigger picture.

Animation should be used very selectively

There is a thin line between good and ineffective animation. Animated elements can easily end up stealing the show, so make sure they are flawlessly timed and rehearsed before you put them under the spotlight. When adding animation, always opt for subtle applications, rather than relentlessly fast and domineering motions which just end up drawing attention away from your message. Flips, twists, tornados and other gimmicky animations rarely ever add value to any presentation – so try and avoid them.

Animation should be appropriate to the audience and brand

Allow the tone of your brand and the rest of the presentation to dictate the rhythm and pace of your animations. Classic and informative presentations can only accommodate a few subtle animated elements before it becomes distracting, whereas an uplifting and dynamic narrative leaves much more room for play. Just don’t let any animation overstay its welcome.

A practical example


Animation effects are most effective when applied to key slides that don’t have too much content. Add some extra dimension to introduction slides to start off your topic with a bang. Not only do these slides provide you more freedom with regards to space, but they also give you the opportunity to grab your audience’s attention before you fire away with the rest of your message.

PowerPoint makes it easy to animate different elements in succession, which makes it a powerful tool to explain or unpack information that forms part of a bigger picture of process. Breaking down your information into steps and introducing them in sequence also allows you to communicate processes much more efficiently and without the need of much explanation.

Facts and figures are ideal candidates for animation. Consider animating key statements or statistics if you want to add more emphasis to it. Arrows and other directional elements often work well with animation, seeing that they already imply a sense of motion – so there’s no harm in driving the point home.

Avoid animation overload by using too many effects all at once on one slide. Overloading a slide with multiple effects tend to do your presentation more harm than good. Not only do they distract the viewer but also they hardly add context or value in the long run. Also try to avoid spins, drops, boomerang and other excessive effects.

Want to see these principles in action? We’ve put together a sample deck for you to poke around with. Just make sure you’ve installed our font pack, so the slides can look their best!

Have you been enjoying the masterclass? We’re in the home stretch. In the next instalment coming out later this week, we’ll be looking into how to tell when it’s time to bring in outside design help and how to collaborate best with your agency. Exciting! We’ll see you then.

Published by Ross

Ross grew up on the wrong side of the Jukskei. He studied at Vega and was awarded the Top Student prize at his graduation. After working as a freelancer for four years, he founded Nicework with Ben Vorster. He has a penchant for Scandinavian wood furniture and really nice shirts. He is open to bribery- all iPads are welcome. He also likes chocolate cake and is happily married.

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