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How to Use PowerPoint Animations

As we have seen in our previous article, Enhance PowerPoint Slides with Animation, animations are important for helping slide content come alive, however there are several considerations that must be thought through when using animations. These include answering questions such as "How does the animation complement the content?","Which is the best animation for the presentation?", "Which animation effect should be used?", and "What is the optimum animation timing to synchronise with the presenter?"

The good news is that the PowerPoint animation features can help you make these decisions. For example, you can hover your mouse over an animation icon and get a real time preview of the animation effects.

This preview can help you decide whether an animation is the correct one for your content prior to implementing. In this article, we provide an in depth look at how to implement the various animation options provided by PowerPoint 2010 to help give a little sparkle to each slide in a presentation.

Let's begin by looking at the options available on the Animations tab. The Animations tab is split into four sections; Preview, Animation, Advanced Animation, and Timing.

Preview allows you to test the effect of an animation on your slide content without you having to use the animation.

Animation contains the different types of animations available. The little drop down scroll arrow to the right of the animations will allow you to view PowerPoint's complete set of animations.

Advanced Animation allows you to see PowerPoint's complete set of animations and allows you to copy animations you've already set

Timing is the length of time taken before the animation comes into effect during the slide presentation.

Animating Your Content

Animating your slide content is a two-step process.

1.In the PowerPoint slide, select the content to be animated

2.Click on the required animation icon and you're done.

But wait....there's more.

There are many other types and categories of animation that can be used.

Click the down arrow of the scroll bar to the right of the animations to display the extra categories. Underneath these icons there are four menus that will take you to more animations within their respective categories (entrance, emphasis, exit, and motion paths).

Animation Effects

Each animation also has a set of effects that can be used to make it more interesting. For example, the Wheel animation has different sets of spokes when spinning the text or images on the slide. The Wheel animation also has a sequence component, which is especially useful for slides containing two or more bullet points. In this example, the By Paragraph effect, is useful for helping the audience focus on a specific bullet point before the next one is displayed.

Animation Timing

Timing is an important animation component with two benefits. The first is for audiences as it helps them know how long to focus on a bullet point. When the animation causes the next bullet point to appear on the slide, the audience will know that it is time to move their focus on. The second benefit of animation timing is that the presenter knows when to move to the next point and will hopefully help them keep on schedule.

The timing options are broken into Start, Duration and Delay. These options are particularly useful if you have used the animation Paragraph effect to display bullet points independently.

The Start option has three settings that define how an animation is triggered.

  • On Click is used to display every animated bullet point only when the mouse is clicked.
  • Start With Previous is used to simultaneously start all animated content when the mouse is clicked.
  • Start After Previous is used to automatically start the next animated content in a slide without having to click the mouse.

Two other useful timing components are the duration and delay settings.

Duration is the amount of time taken by an animation to show the content. This setting is useful for perhaps an embedded quiz in PowerPoint when you want a picture on a slide to gradually appear.

Delay is the time to wait before displaying the next item in a list. For example, if you wanted to speak for two minutes before your next item appears, you would set a delay of 120 seconds.

When animating content, remember that it will run in the order that each piece of content was selected and animated. If a mistake has been made, for example if the last piece of content on the slide has been accidentally selected first and so will appear on the slide first, you can amend this problem by using the Animation Pane option.

The Animation Pane provides a timeline view that you can use to fine tune the animation timing and to arrange more complex animations.

One of the most useful features is the Play button which allows you to preview how the animated content works.

The PowerPoint 2010 Animations is useful to enhance presentations and can make your slides come alive, but do be careful as animations can be a distraction when overused. However when combined with PowerPoint Transitions and embedded videos, you will be able to create very dynamic presentations.