Animation for a Reason- Caveats

By now, you’ve read my last post (which extolled the manifold virtues of rational animation) and you are convinced of value of animation for a reason. Now for some bad  news:  your carefully wrought effects will disappear in some situations. Sorry.

Here are some examples:

  • On-line meetings – a geographically dispersed group views a presentation and interacts; realtime video of the participants may be provided.
  • Slide sharing sites – your PowerPoint files are uploaded to a site designed to allow visitors to search, browse and view the collection.
  • PowerPoint conversions – for ease of distribution or use on the web, PowerPoint files are converted to Flash or other video forms.

These technologies are very useful and serve to give your work a wider audience. However, they almost always involve conversion of your .ppt file to something else, usually ignoring your carefully designed animations.

Before you or someone important use one of these services, make sure that your presentation behaves as it should. This will require a trial even though some of these conversions advertise support of effects, but they may miss some. In addition, some won’t support some graphical elements (e.g., WordArt).

If animation is not supported, you need to redesign the presentation. You will, of course, remove the effects and probably rearrange objects on the screen that don’t work in the static view. You may be able to simulate some effects (e.g., appearances) by using several slides  (NB: slide transition effects may not be supported). You may be able to take advantage of the fact that these presentations are viewed by individuals on computer screens where smaller elements are more legible. Do not overdo this and overstuff your slides.

There is another case worth mentioning: you may be invited to present at a conference where the organizers want “a copy of your presentation” to publish for attendees and others. Since you understand some of the principles I have preached here (see The Trouble with PowerPoint 1), you know this is a mistake. The conference organizers think that your presentation is a document that can be understood (and believed) without the presenter. (It’s not. Right??)

The answer here, of course, is to prepare a carefully written and designed document (in .ppt format) which will allow the reader to get your message.

In summary: recognize that your animations will probably not work in these situations; test to make sure; and then rework the presentation.

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