Nov 20 2008
One form of animations in PowerPoint that you may want to avoid is slide transitions. Transitions are the animation or motion effects that occur as you move between slides in a PowerPoint presentation. Continuing in my tradition of comparing PowerPoint to food, I consider slide transitions to be “empty calories” within PowerPoint - high in calories (sizzle) and low in nutritional value (substance).
Why do presenters use transitions?
I believe some people review their PowerPoint slides prior to delivering their presentation and determine that their slides need to be “spiced up” or enhanced in some way to increase their appeal. Perhaps they already sense that their slides are somewhat boring or weak, and they may be susceptible to losing their audience’s attention. Why not throw in some different transitions to break apart the bullet-point-laden slides? Maybe the slide transitions will help to keep their audience more engaged and focused…(so the reasoning goes).
What is the purpose of slide transitions?
Presentation software from Microsoft PowerPoint to Apple’s Keynote all include slide transitions. PowerPoint transitions haven’t changed since PowerPoint XP and have definitely become a little stale. You can purchase additional third-party transitions packages such as PowerPlugs:Transitions that provide more exciting transition options. Apple’s Keynote 3 provides a number of impressive “cinematic” transitions that significantly outperform PowerPoint 2007′s tired transitions. However, regardless of the perceived coolness factor, you need to remember that slide transitions simply inform the audience that your presentation has progressed from one slide to another slide. That’s it.
Slide transitions vs. custom animations
Unlike custom animation effects, slide transitions don’t impact the actual content within your slides. Custom animations can be used to control the flow of information (e.g., text, images, and objects) on a slide, which can be beneficial in explaining elaborate concepts or processes. Slide transitions delay, dilute, and detract from the messaging of your presentation. No matter how great the commercials may be during your favorite TV show, you skip ahead with your DVR to the next segment of your program as quickly as possible. In addition, adding fancy slide transitions to a weak business presentation is like adding lipstick to a pig. They’re definitely not a cure for preventing death by PowerPoint.
“But I really like slide transitions…”
Going back to my Golden Rule of PowerPoint, always do what is right for your audience. If slide transitions would help you communicate more effectively in a particular situation, then use them. For example, slide transitions may be perfectly appropriate for photo slideshows created in PowerPoint. If you feel slide transitions would help the flow of your presentation, I recommend using transitions that are subtle (e.g., fades) and choosing only one for your entire presentation. A PowerPoint ninja would never allow slide transitions to upstage actual slide content.
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