Looking for a sure-fire way to make your colleagues roll their eyes? Just announce you’re about to add animations to a PowerPoint slide deck.

We’ve all heard the admonishments, and many of us have even seen the worst practices in action. “Thou shalt not animate slides” is today a virtual commandment in workplaces worldwide.

Which is a shame.

Because nothing breaks down “death by PowerPoint” like simple, subtle animation.

Deployed intelligently, including small movements in your PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Presentation slides can help you direct your audience’s focus to what’s important, and help you build a story step-by-step as you present.

The ability to use animation skillfully to help your audience focus and understand your slides is especially critical when you intend to record your presentation. While presentation video is a great way to share ideas, it raises the bar for presenters, since you likely won’t be in the room to resolve any possible points of confusion.

And that’s where adding simple animations can help.

So what’s the right way to use animations in a recorded presentation?

According to PowerPoint Ninja, the key is to create slides that display your information in small, digestible chunks, through a technique called “content staging.” The goal of staging content is to sustain the audience’s attention by revealing your content over multiple steps within a single slide, ensuring that the viewer always stays with you rather than reading ahead.

Here’s what simple content staging looks like, from one our own presentations comparing an existing design concept with a proposed new treatment:

Fade in animation for recorded presentations

Notice that a simple “Fade In” animation clearly sets up the dichotomy, allowing the viewer to look at one set first before comparing to the other. It’s an effective way to show the comparison.

Animation becomes especially useful in your recorded presentation when you want to help your audience follow along with a specific line of thinking. As Smarterer notes, “using custom animations, you can control how the content is displayed to the audience so as to not overwhelm them and help them to follow your train of thought.”

On these more complicated slides, you want to take advantage of timing and movement to simplify the message. Using another example from our own materials, let’s look at one way to highlight a list of features that might otherwise be difficult to see if presented all at once.

How to use animations better in your next presentation

When recording a presentation, the key to great animations is simplicity

There are three types of animations: Entrance, Emphasis, and Exit. And while PowerPoint especially presents no shortage of options for each, we’ve found it’s best to stay simple when producing your slides.

Animation options in PowerPoint

Animation Options in PowerPoint 2010


Here are some of our favorite slide animations:

  • Fade — which brings your object in or out in a way that’s noticeable but not sudden

  • Wipe —  which creates just enough movement to effectively catch a viewer’s eye — which is especially valuable if they’re likely to be looking elsewhere on screen

  • Disappear — The single best tool for killing clutter. Each time you animate in a new step or object, use disappear to remove the previous objects to ensure viewers don’t get confused (for an example, we used disappear in moving the colored boxes around in the second example above).

Online presentations are becoming increasingly popular in organizations for all sorts of uses — from training and onboarding to communications, sales enablement, and even social learning.

There’s no easier way to record and share online presentations than with Panopto. With just a few clicks Panopto can record your slides, your screen — with full animations — and even your webcam or other additional video inputs, enabling you to share any idea with anyone, and always get the right angle.

Record your next video presentation with Panopto!

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Published: January 12, 2018