When and how to use animation in PowerPoint

The old adage ‘less is more’ could definitely be applied to the use of animation in PowerPoint presentations. Using a lot of different animations can distract from your overall message and make your presentation looks amateurish and messy. Used well, and this can mean adding some complex animations (and triggers, more on those later), it can draw attention to your key points, look really nifty and leave a lasting impression on your audience.

Before you begin

Before you start adding animations it is best to make sure the content of your presentation is finalised. Once animation is added it becomes harder to make changes. A useful tip is to add text directly to shapes where possible instead of adding textboxes on top of shapes – this makes animation easier as you are working with shapes and not groups.

With your content in place you should start by opening the Animation Pane. You will find this in the Animations tab. Within this pane you will see all of your animations in the order they will play.

If you are adding a lot of animations to a slide, go the Selection Pane (on the Home tab, go to the far right and click on the Select dropdown menu, click on Selection Pane) and rename the objects you are going to animate (these names will then also appear on the shapes in the Animation Pane) – this will make it easier to animate in sequence and a lot easier for anyone else who works on the presentation later to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

Which animations look good?

As a rule, we tend to stick to the simpler, cleaner animations such as Fade, Fly In/Out, Wipe In/Out and Appear/Disappear. We also try to avoid having to click through the animations by setting them to appear either With Previous or After Previous.

Remember, people watch what moves. They notice what is different. Make sure what you are saying matches watch you are showing with an animation. You want the flow of animation to match the flow of what you are saying.

Applying multiple animations to one object

Instead of using the animations ribbon to apply animations in the Animations tab, make a habit of using the Add Animation button instead – otherwise any animation you have previously applied to an object will be overwritten.

Animation Painter

To easily copy animations from one object to another, use the Animation Painter in the Animations tab. This works in the same was as the Format Painter and will bring over all of the animation effects and timings.


The clue is in the name! A trigger makes something happen. For example, if you want additional text to be hidden on your slide until you click an object – you can create a trigger to do this. Some examples of how triggers can be used can be seen in this short video:

Using transitions to animate

Transitions can create the illusion of animations. The Push transition (set to come in from the right) can create the effect of a timeline, as shown in this video.

In the right hands the Morph transition can mimic sophisticated animations, you can see this in action here.

When not to use animation

The key here is not to use animation if it is going to distract from your message. Avoid using animation for presentations used in webinars – because the slides and visuals are streamed to all members at once including members whose internet connections may not be fast or stable meaning the animations lag or do not play at all.

How to master using slide masters

slide masters

Slide masters are good for you! For those of you who are learning about PowerPoint slide masters for the first time, a master acts as a style sheet for setting common or uniform elements on all slides in a presentation. You might wonder how a slide master is different to a slide layout? Put simply, slide layouts are different style variants of a slide master.

Why use slide masters?

Setting up template masters correctly will make creating house style presentations much simpler.
You’ll get consistent looking slides, your formatting speed will increase, you’ll save time for other (more) important work.
If you’ve ever wasted time trying to get one slide looking more like another. For example when pasting in slides from other decks – then it will really help to understand masters.

The “Reset” button is an awesome tool. When your slides are correctly supported by slide master and layouts – you’ll be able to reformat at entire slide with just one click. It’s our best friend.

How to set up a Slide Master:

To access slide masters, go to the View tab and click Slide Master. The top master is the grand master, you need to scroll to the top of the list of layouts on the left to get to it.

Do as much style setting as you can on the top master as this will feed through to all other layouts automatically.

What to set up on the top master

What are the most common elements you use on a slide? Use these to format your top master.

Use your company house style to create bullet styles (choose the bullet hierarchy), fonts, colours and layout of footers.  Change the theme, background, or colour scheme.

Click Format Background at the bottom of the Background Styles list to open the Format pane and choose from background options, such as advanced fill settings, artistic effects, and colour and image settings.

To change all of the fonts in your presentation at once go to the top of the Slide Master pane, click the slide master. In the Background group on the Slide Master tab, click and select a font from the list.

To edit placeholders in the grand master slide, click Master Layout. To show or hide the title, text, date, slide numbers, or footer placeholders on the slide master, select or clear the check boxes to show or hide the placeholders.

Some more tips

  • Do not to delete footer, page number and date from the top master – but do format them and switch them off in other layouts if they aren’t needed.
  • Avoid using subheading styles within main bullet hierarchy:  additional text boxes on layouts is preferable.
  • Use the “Hide Background graphics” option in the ribbon to turn off the graphics from the top master in a layout.
  • Use a fixed text box for any permanent footer (e.g Private & Confidential), but use the footer placeholder for editable text (e.g. Presentation Title).
  • You can either delete or leave in any layouts you think you won’t need – at a later date they might come in handy.

Mastering slide masters is easy when you know how!

Which PowerPoint Font should you use?

There are thousands of weird and wonderful fonts available, but when choosing a PowerPoint font for your presentation it is vital that you take into consideration where it will be viewed. For example, if your audience is in-house only and all of your team/company have your house style fonts installed on their machines then there isn’t a problem with using them (just so long as everyone has them installed that is…). However, if your house style fonts are non-standard PowerPoint fonts and the presentation is going to be viewed externally or on any machine which does not have the font installed – that’s where you could have a nasty problem.

Why is this a problem?

If your chosen PowerPoint font is non-standard and the computer used to view the presentation doesn’t have this font installed, PowerPoint will automatically substitute in a standard font (e.g. Calibri) instead. This can make the presentation look very different (for example, text may wrap in odd places or fall off the slide altogether) and no one wants that.

What’s the solution?

Happily, you don’t need to be a font geek to fix this, there are a few simple ways to stop it from happening!

  • You could only use the PowerPoint on machines that have the correct font installed. But, this may not be possible if you are sending the presentation out to clients or if it is being used at a conference or other meeting where it will be loaded onto a non-company machine which does not have your font installed.
  • There is the option to embed a non-standard font into the PowerPoint itself. This option is limited though because it this only works for .TTF* fonts (not .OTF* fonts) and it doesn’t work at all when presentations are viewed on a Mac.
  • If you are 100% sure that your presentation is finalised you can save it as a PDF before distribution. But, again, there is a downside to this. Although fonts are embedded automatically in PDFs, suddenly your presentation will be a lot harder to edit and any nifty animations you have added will be lost.
  • You could replace the font with images of the text. Yes, this will look the same, but again you have now made your presentation a lot harder to edit in the future.
  • The most effective solution is to replace the font with a standard (safe) PowerPoint font (e.g. Arial, Century Gothic, Calibri) instead. You can choose the font which is the closest match in terms of your house style font for a similar look and feel. The downside to this is if your house style font is particularly quirky you may not be able to find a suitable equivalent. In this case you can refer to the above options.

What is a standard PowerPoint font?

We have already mentioned Arial, Century Gothic and Calibri – there are more to choose from. Other fonts that are safe to use cross-platform are Times New Roman, Times, Verdana, Courier and Courier New – to name just a few. You can find more listed here: http://presentit.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/fonts.html.  Something else you should bear in mind is that the safe fonts list also depends on which version of Windows is being used – make sure your font is safe in all versions if your presentation is going to be widely distributed.

*What are .TTF and .OTF fonts?

TrueType Fonts (.TTF) came first and were designed to work with on both PCs and Macs. OpenType Fonts (.OTF) were developed later to work in Adobe and Microsoft packages. The main difference between .OTF and .TTF is in the advanced typesetting features which .OTF offers. There are some extra frills such as ligatures and ‘alternate characters’ (also known as glyphs) available, that give designers more options to work with.

Further information

There are a number of webpages that will talk you through all of this in more detail:




With font selection it is better to go with a safe option.

Face-saving PPT keyboard shortcuts (when you’re presenting)

PowerPoint designers

PPT keyboard shortcuts come in handy: It’s the kind of scenario people have bad dreams about… you are halfway through your presentation and the mouse stops working leaving you stranded on one slide. So, you start to panic, everyone’s waiting and you want to keep their attention… Luckily for you, there are some PPT keyboard shortcuts in PowerPoint Slide Show mode which you can use to keep things moving seamlessly.

To kick things off, you may need to access Slide Show mode – clicking F5 (or Fn F5 on some keyboards) will start the Slide Show from slide 1.

There are a few ways to move on to the next slide, you can press Enter, the n key (for next), the down arrow or the spacebar – and the presentation will move to the next slide.

Take me there
. If you want to navigate to a particular slide in the deck and you know the slide number, type the number and press return to take you directly to that slide.

Where was I?
If you want to go to a particular slide but don’t know the slide number, clicking Ctrl-S within a Slide Show will bring up a list of slides in the presentation. You can then use the down arrow on the keyboard to get to your desired slide, simply press return when it is highlighted in the list and you’ll be taken straight there.

Give me a sec. Now you have things moving again, you may want to pause the presentation briefly to give you time to wax lyrical. So that your audience is listening to you and isn’t distracted by what’s on screen, you can temporarily blank out your slide. Simply type ‘b’. This will black out the screen until you press another key. Similarly, ‘w’ will make the screen go white.

You’re just showing off now.
You want to draw the audience’s attention to something specific on your slide but, as we know, your mouse has abandoned you. Try Ctrl-P – this will turn your cursor into a pen on the screen. You can then use your finger on the mouse pad to move the pen to where you want it on the screen, and then if you click and hold on the mouse pad you can draw on the slide with your finger. To get out of pen mode, Ctrl-P again and you can carry on through your presentation.

Don’t have nightmares, you don’t need a mouse when you have the nous.

Think you know PowerPoint? 6 things you might not know…

6 reasons why PowerPoint is totally underrated

PowerPoint, yippee! Well it’s no surprise that we think PowerPoint is a fantastic bit of kit, but some of the (new) features may surprise you.
This blog is longer than usual. You’ll need a few extra minutes for this one!

1. It’s constantly improving!

Yes, PowerPoint of the 1990s is a thing of the past! Microsoft’s latest release features a multitude of new buttons that have steadily been enhancing the design experience since Office 365 began. Yes, I said the “design” experience…

Even though 99% of PowerPoint’s users are NOT trained designers, the team behind the software have added the following, to help you improve your slides:

  • Design suggestions. Pretty much as soon as you add a photo to a blank page, PPT’s side bar will pop up with half a dozen design suggestions for layout. You can choose one, be inspired by one to do your own, or of course, turn it off!
  • Icon library. What’s taken them so long? Yes, farewell clipart, and hello icons! These small items of graphical 2D art can be enlarged without any pixellation and recoloured, just like a PPT shape in fact. It’s free, built-in, and well worth using!
  • Extra whizzy features. Additional transitions, zoom tools and animations – more on those in point # 5 below. *Warning* please use wisely!

2. You can save as a video

You can save your PPT in mp4 format. Simply “Save As” and choose the right option!

The software converts the click animations and timings automatically so the video of your presentation plays without pause.  Wait! If you’re picturing slides with bulleted lists appearing one by one as a movie: stop that train of thought right now. If you haven’t looked before, have a butchers at Presented’s vimeo channel for a few examples of what we mean by PowerPoint videos.

Videos can be any dimension, can be used to sell your product, show your company creds, and so on. Video marketing is so powerful, and you probably have the software on your computer already to create and edit high quality video files. And thanks to a recent PowerPoint upgrade – you can now also choose from various export qualities. Lower res perhaps for mobile social media shares, or high quality 4k!

PowerPoint made videos can be good, and we mean really good. You might be tempted to use a professional video making company – and you’d get a great result, but for all future edits and text or simple statistic updates, you have to go back to that company and pay a fee. When you have a video in PowerPoint and you need to make edits – well, you have the software, you can go ahead and make the changes yourself and resave. You’ll be able to keep your company presentations up to date – for a long time and in the most cost-effective way.

3. PowerPoint can be a fully hyperlinked and interactive document (and will save as a PDF)

Need an interactive PDF? PowerPoint can be your base document.
Need an interactive “screen”, like a website, but off line? A PowerPoint screenshow is the answer.

Hyperlinks can be applied in PowerPoint to any object, shape or text – you simply point the link to other slides within the presentation. So, you can jump around a presentation – or a document – and be led by the flow of the questions arising in your meeting, or by your own curiosity, by your specific area of interest, or your client’s. You can assign a “home” hyperlink to an icon, so you can return to Agenda slides, or main level slides.

You can obviously use hyperlinks for a menu style navigation, but you can also use it for extra detail slides that you might otherwise skip over. For example, you might want to include the full spec of a product, but only to show it if the customer displayed an interest. That way you can keep the nice layout you have and not lose the impact of a great photo and the product overview. The spec list would simply reside on an extra slide: click to view, and then click to return to where you were previously in the presentation. If you don’t want to show it – simply don’t click!

If you’re an advanced PowerPoint user, you can combine hyperlinks with “Custom PowerPoint Shows” to best show mini-sections within a deck, but that’s a feature that’s too in depth for this particular blog!

In short, hyperlinks are great. More and more of our clients are looking for interactive PDFs and PowerPoint does a fantastic job in this respect.

The next reason why PowerPoint is underrated is linked to the functionality of a hyperlink…

4. PowerPoint can do trigger events

Sometimes when you click on an object onscreen an action is triggered. For example, a quotation could appear next to the object which then disappears again on a click.  This type of animation is simply called a “trigger”.

We like to use triggers to reveal pop-out menus. They can also be useful for advanced animations within a presentation. They can be great for interactive quizzes too – see our Pop Quiz example on the link below.

Other examples of a trigger event could be a spec list popping or sliding onto the slide. If you want a video to play, but not to take up slide space, you can store it off the screen, then on a trigger event the video appears.

We have a short presentation that you can download here which contains several triggers. It’s a highly interactive PowerPoint slideshow, and it is full of features that maybe you didn’t know PowerPoint has. Perhaps you haven’t thought about how those PowerPoint features could be used to add value to material that you have? Download our “Essentials” slideshow here and click away on those trigger loaded objects!

presentation designers

Get trigger happy!
(this link expires in 7 days, if you miss it: just drop me a line and I’ll send it over!)

5. PowerPoint has whizzy animations that can help understanding AND look fab…

Everything in moderation – especially when it comes to PowerPoint animation. At Presented we follow the rule that animation must serve a purpose: and these are:

When you want to prevent your audience from reading ahead: If you are presenting a list of bullet points (although we recommend you don’t!), then it’s crucial that the audience stays with you and the point you’re discussing, rather than having their attention split by skim reading everything they can see ahead on the slide. Animation can help keep your audience with you.

When you want to prevent cognitive overload:  Even if you’re presenting a visual – a flow diagram, a business process – it’s still worth introducing that diagram piece by piece rather than overwhelming the audience with all the information at once. As the presenter you might be familiar with the content and not find it at all taxing, but for an audience seeing something for the first time, slide after slide, cognitive overload is something you really want to avoid if you can.

When you want to attract attention: Another good thing to know about animation is that movement attracts attention. You can use animation to draw attention to areas of the slide where you want audience focus. As we say: use it wisely. Don’t animate too many things – that might be distracting.

When you want to impress: However, for those occasions when you want to impress the room and elevate PowerPoint to the highest level (as we try to do) then you will want to get into slide transitions as well as animation. A transition is how the slide changes, rather than how the objects on the slide animates (animation). Different transitions can enhance the overall feel of the presentation – the push transition for example can create a “big canvas” feel that you get with online apps like Prezi. PowerPoint now includes a “morph” transition. The morph transition means that objects will move, grow, and shrink so smoothly that PPT will look nothing like PPT as you knew it. For example, the following is just 2 slides: See our Clint Eastwood example here.

And still more impressively, PowerPoint can now handle 3D objects. Yes, 3D objects can rotate around freely. It’s going to change how you think about this software. If you have Office 365 you may already have this feature… and if you don’t… then yes, you should get 365!

When you want an Agenda or Contents page that shows hyperlinked images of your sections: ANOTHER cool extra that PowerPoint has is a way to create an agenda or contents page that features a thumbnail of the dividers in your slideshow. The thumbnails will not only hyperlink to each section, but they will also zoom in to travel there. It’s a nice feature, and so long as you design the dividers nicely and lay them out well, it can help your audience understand the navigation and structure of your presentation. Simply drag the divider slide from your left hand navigation bar on to the surface of your contents page. PPT does the linking automatically.

6. PowerPoint is fantastic for print layout and design

I know, you should be using InDesign, but few people have the right skills let alone the licence for that lovely package. Here at Presented we also offer Word and InDesign layout services, although we don’t tend to shout about it because we are, obviously, PowerPoint specialists.

Indeed, PowerPoint offers a very good option for brochures. Unlike Word, but like InDesign, PowerPoint can follow templated layouts for consistent display. The main disadvantage is the lack of “text flow” from slide to slide, or text box to text box. If PPT could add a linked text box option for pagination issues then it could potentially take over from Word. Even with that limitation, we find it to be a very easy to use software for posters, leaflets, forms, documents and brochures. If you wanted to see some samples, please drop us a line to ask.

There we have it. Just 6 reasons here, but there are heaps of further advantages to using PowerPoint, and also heaps of further reasons to prove PowerPoint is both a very good software, and probably not the software that you thought it is.

Don’t forget – several of the features can be demo’d in the slideshow we call “Essentials”. It’s a PowerPoint file, of course.

Drop us a line if there’s anything we can help you with,