PowerPoint animation tips & advice

Download our sample presentation for practice.

Credit: Rob Schultz/IDG

Almost any PowerPoint presentation would benefit from clever animation. And, lucky for us, the Internet has an endless supply of animated templates that you can download for free (or for a nominal fee) and customize to your company’s specific needs. Just search on “free animated PowerPoint presentations,” and stand back for the avalanche of results.

However, if you’re a great artist (or even a rookie) and fancy a challenge, study the templates for ideas, then create your own animated slideshow. For a refresher course on PowerPoint animations, see these articles: PowerPoint tips from Duarte’s Five Rules Presentation and How to create Motion Paths in PowerPoint.

We’ve provided a sample PowerPoint presentation for your convenience as you practice the following tips: 

Use this PowerPoint file to practice the animation tips we describe in this story. JD Sartain

Select a sample presentation for practice

1. First, let’s review some of PowerPoint’s sample animated presentations for two reasons: to see how animations work and to get some ideas for your own original presentation.

2. Open PowerPoint and select New (presentation).

3. In the Search box, type animated and press Enter (or click the magnifying glass).

4. PowerPoint displays around 20 presentations. Browse through the list, open and review several of the animated slideshows, notice how they work, then close each one.

5. For this tutorial, select the one called Animated Descriptions Infographics Sampler. When the dialog window pops up, click the Create button.

NOTE: New presentations begin the same way as existing slideshows, except you select Blank Presentation instead of one of the samples.

001 open create a new slideshow JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Open/Create a New Slideshow

Tips & advice

1. First (and most important), create a “storyboard” (a paper mockup) of your presentation before you even open PowerPoint. This process saves loads of time and eliminates unnecessary errors.

2. Create a folder titled after your presentation. For this exercise, try this: C:\PPoint Presentations\Animated Infographics Sampler.

3. Locate the graphics you plan to use for your presentation (from clip art, stock photos, personal or corporate images, etc.) and copy or download them into the Animated Infographics Sampler subfolder.

4. Online Pictures, Screenshots, Photos, Shapes, Icons, 3D Models, Smart Art, Charts, and even Animations are all available from the Insert > Images and Insert > Illustrations tabs and groups on the Ribbon menu, in addition to WordArt (Insert > Text > WordArt) and Symbols (Insert > Symbols).

NOTE: If working with an existing presentation, press function key F5 to review the presentation and determine whether the slides advance automatically, or the user/client/audience must use the mouse or arrow keys to advance the slides. For new presentations, create the slides first, then set the timings later.

5. Next, enter the text and accompanying graphics on each slide.

002 insert tab images illustrations text groups JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

INSERT tab> Images, Illustrations, and Text groups

6. Once that step is complete, it’s time to animate your objects (i.e., text and images) using PowerPoint’s presets. For example: there are dozens of Entrance, Emphasis, Exit, and Motion Path animations and effects. Select the ANIMATIONS tab, then click the expansion down arrow on the top right side to view samples of each animation effect.

NOTE: Preview the animations to save lots of time.

7. Select your image or text, then with the Animations drop-down menu displayed, click one of the More effects from the list at the bottom, such as More Entrance Effects. Browse through the list and notice that each time you click an effect, the selected image responds and shows how that animation effect looks.

NOTE: Ensure that the Preview Effect box is checked so the animations perform.

003 insert animations JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Insert animations

8. Once an animation is selected, click the Animation Pane to determine the Effect Options and Timing. The Options include things like custom colors, sounds, and how to behave after the animation performs. The Timing includes Start options: Start On Click (of the mouse), Start With Previous animation, or Start After Previous animation.

NOTE: For auto or self-running presentations, do not choose Start On Click.

9. Set the Delay (in seconds): how many seconds after the current slide appears that you want the animation to begin.

10. Duration is how long the animation should last. Very Fast is 0.5 seconds, and it progresses through  to Fast, Medium, Slow, Very Slow, and Extremely Slow (20 seconds).

11. Next choose how many times you want the animation to Repeat. Choose a number from the list, or choose Until Next Click, Until End of Slide, or None.

12. Check the Rewind box if you want the animation effect to rewind and replay.

13. And last, set Triggers for manual execution such as Animate as Part of a Sequence or Start Effect on Click of (choose a trigger from the list such as Rectangle 3, Picture 5, Text Box, etc.).

14. Once the Options and Timings are set, click OK, and then click the Play From button to view your selections.

004 customize options timing using the animation pane JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Customize Options + Timing using the Animation Pane

15. Consider adding transitions between each slide for a seamless progression throughout the presentation. Click the Transitions tab, then click the expansion arrow in the bottom right corner to view more choices. Notice that as you click each one, PowerPoint provides a preview of the selected Transition.

16. After you’re satisfied with your work, it’s time to run the presentation and rehearse the Timings (under the Slideshow tab). This process is super easy now. You just click the Rehearse Timings button, then watch the show and press the Enter key when you want the slide to advance to the next slide.

17. A Timing counter appears in the top left corner showing the progression of seconds. When finished (at the end of the slideshow), press Enter. PowerPoint displays a popup dialog that says: The total time of your slide show was 0:01:22 (shows exact time), then asks: Do you want to save the new slide timings?

18. If satisfied, click Yes. If not satisfied, click No and try again.

005 transitions and rehearse timing JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Transitions and Rehearse Timing

NOTE: You can also add Audio or Video. Select the Media group under the Insert tab to add these features. See this article for precise instructions: How to add music to your PowerPoint presentations

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JD Sartain

PC World (US online)
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