Powerpoint animations? NO, Transitions!


The client comes and says: “I want my slides cooler and more effective, so we need to animate them!” This is the point where I wish I had not accepted that client! The fact that PowerPoint includes animations does not really mean we must use them.

Design does not mean making things move so they look better, but rather it is the combining of elements to achieve a better communication.

[“design is about people creating solutions that help or improve the lives of other people” G. Reynolds.] (CLICK TO TWEET)

Artists follow their impulse and create whatever they need to express, designers follow their user needs and work in business environments to solve problems from the user’s standpoint. A presentation designer works to improve the quality of life of the target audience of the presentation.

I use design to improve the way a message is communicated, so as to make it stick in the audience’s mind. The presentation designer works in an environment with a lot of constraints; for example, a corporate presentation template, a corporate communication color palette, or a certain, specific element that needs to be on all the slides (e.g, some brand logo) for political reasons. It often happens that, rather than adding high quality new visuals, the biggest part of the work of a presentation designer is simplifying the actual material, polishing the presentation, and really taking the presenter back to the core message he or she really wants to communicate.

Would you still use animations to make your presentation cooler? The correct answer is: “no, I would not use them, unless I really needed to in order to communicate my message better.”

Based on my experience, I would suggest that you  take in consideration transitions instead of animations.


Now, forget all the different kinds of “beautiful” transitions PowerPoint has  and focus on the “push effect.” This enables you to break the border of a single slide and work on an infinite canvas that you can navigate. I recently found it very useful on a presentation of a digital startup I was working on. Look at that:

As you can see that this transition helps you to drive the audience through a path built within your presentation. I often use the “push effect” when I describe project roadmaps and processes in general.

In order to create this effect you need to make perfect cuts. Here my step by step procedure:

    1. Make sure all the elements are placed so that the slides look symmetrical, so when you pass from one slide to another you keep continuity.
    2. Duplicate your icon and place it below its copy. Be sure you keep them vertically aligned
    3. Place a line as a reference to see where to cut
    4. Use the crop tool and cut the icon
    5. Use the guidelines to make sure you place them in a symmetrical way
    6. Set the transition effect


Now the pro of this is that this transitions looks incredibly good and will make you shine in front of your audience. The con is that if you are going to present on a PDF, your slides will look crappy! So, be sure to get this effect done before you spend a lot of time working, so that you will be able to really use it. Generally speaking, if you know the presentation will be projected on a MAC, I’d suggest you go for a safe PDF, as it will keep you away from last minute technical issues.

So, have you changed your mind about using animation to make the slide look cooler? 🙂

Looking forward to your comments!

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