Creating an Animated “Meter” Metaphor in PowerPoint

A meter (a thermometer or speedometer, for example) can be a metaphor for indicating change.  Meters in presentations can show a change resulting from an action.  For example, the performance of employees can change customer satisfaction.

One advantage of a meter is that it can indicate qualitative change in a definite way.  Of course, if you have the numbers, the meter can show that too.

This post will show you how to construct a meter and animate it. The slide above is the result we want; each time a bullet appears, we want the meter to swing towards positive (three steps).

An updated version of this post with videos showing the animations is here.

Here are the parts of the meter: a rounded rectangle for the “case,” a block arc for the window, and two circles for the range markers.

Use guidelines to align the meter parts.  Also, the block arc should be circular (equal height and width).  Use the shift key while creating or adjusting the block arc to keep it proportioned correctly.  Use the Format/Size pane to adjust the height and width if needed.

Now for the moving part – the needle.  Here we use a trick to set the center point for a rotating object: group the object with an invisible circle whose center point is the desired point of rotation.

The green circle and triangle below form the “needle group.” Again, use the guidelines to position the needle group at the center of the block arc.

I intentionally positioned the needle in the center position to make the next step easier: measuring the desired “swing” of the needle.  To do this, select the green handle and rotate the needle group (eyeball it) to the rightmost position.  Look at the Size and Position pane to determine the size of the rotation; in this case it requires a rotation of 54° to swing the needle group from the center position to the rightmost position.  So, the total swing is 2×54=108°.

What’s the point of measuring the swing? Since we want the swing to happen in three steps, we now know that each step is 108/3=36°.

Here’s how to animate the meter: using the Size and Position panel, rotate the needle group by -54° – this is the starting position. Now apply animation to the group:  Spin Clockwise, 36°, On Click, Very Fast.  Use SlideShow mode to check the result.

Now, add two more steps (each animation will rotate the needle group from its last position so each Spin is 36°):

Now that you’ve got the mechanism working, make the meter more presentable. First, make the circle in the needle group invisible by setting Line Color to No line. Then, fill the needle (red) and the case (gray gradient)

Fill the window with white. Create text boxes for the minus and plus and group with the corresponding circle (the minus is 40 pts, the plus is 32 pts):

If you want, add 3D effects to give the meter more dimensionality:

For this effect, apply the Cross 3D bevel to the case,  the Soft Curve 3D bevel to the window and the Angle 3D bevel to the needle.

Now build the slide and sequence the animation:

Each bullet starts On Click and the meter animation (Spin) Follows Previous (occurs immediately after the bullet).  If you want to see the animation, ask me for a copy of the PowerPoint file (see below).

Here are some other meter types:

Notes on these meters:

  • You can use red, yellow and green to indicate improvement.
  • Recalculate the swing to add more steps like the 4-step meter shown.
  • Use text on the meter face (percentages, etc.) to indicate the steps.
  • The slider types use a Motion Path for animation; you can use a three-color linear gradient for a multi-step slider .
  • The big dial versions provide more space to label the meter.
  • The thermometer uses several segments of color and Wipe from Bottom animation.
  • Use a semitransparent gray overlay (circles) to dim the bulbs in the light bar – Fade in or out to light and dim the bulbs.

Finally, you may want to use a “cable” to connect your meter to another object:

If you want to see how the satisfaction meter is constructed and animated, use the form below to request a free PowerPoint file:

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