Building Your Story – Animated Lists

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Your presentations are full of lists: agendas, products and features, customers, office locations, schedules and miscellaneous bullet points. Animating some of these lists is a good way to add impact and engage your audience; here’s why:

  • Presenting a load of information all at once is a deadly habit. Progressively disclosing items one at a time will allow you to keep  your audience’s attention focused where you want it.
  • Animation is a powerful attention grabber; it is nearly impossible to ignore. (The reasons are rooted in survival instincts – see here for more.)
  • Sometimes, the choice of animation effects can actually add to your message; I will show you some examples in this post.

Here’s an example that the folks over at Acme use to discuss their customer management services:

Acme presenters discuss each element of the “mantra” one at a time. The animation is eye-catching and adds to the idea that these principles are a solid foundation for customer service.

Here are some notes:

  • Each “brick” is a Rectangle containing text. 3D Bevels are applied to the Rectangle and the text to suggest solidity and importance.
  • Each animation is a Fly-in/From Top. This is much simpler than a motion path and works well as a “building” step.
  • The Fly-in has a Bounce end setting; again, this suggests weight.

A top-down build may be useful for other lists (an agenda, for example). This example uses Stretch animations to introduce each element:

Some more ideas about agendas are in this post.

These ideas can be applied to other structures – a pyramid, for example:

This sketch suggests the organizing a structure by selecting elements from a stockpile. Line motion paths are used. As I often do, I made a target structure (red outlines) to aid in setting the motion path endpoints; here’s what this looks like:

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You can apply animations to SmartArt diagrams, too. Here’s an example of a Radial Venn diagram with Fly in animations:

Animating SmartArt is a little different; here’s how this was done:

  • Select the diagram and apply the animation (Fly in). The default will apply the effect to the entire diagram.
  • Under Effect  Options (SmartArt animation), select One by one (other diagram types may have different nomenclature). This creates a list of effects in the animation pane that you can edit.
  • For this example, I Removed the effect for the central element and modified the direction, order and timing of the remaining elements.
  • If you struggle to get the result you want, try decomposing the SmartArt into individual ordinary objects and working with those (see “Not So SmartArt” for more on this).

Here’s a more elaborate example of “delivering” a list element:

Faithful readers will recognize techniques from my post on animating vehicles. You might want to review that post; here are a few helpful (?) notes:

  • I drew the car using standard PowerPoint shapes. This may be simpler for you if you are not comfortable with drawing Freeforms. Here’s the process:

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  • The shapes (Ovals and Chords) are combined using Merge Shapes/Union and Subtract for the wheel openings. The wheels are combination of Ovals with a Star and a Donut.
  • The body and wheels are kept separate since they will be animated separately.
  • I applied a motion path to the car body, positioning the end point using a temporary target version of the car.
  • Using the Animation Painter, I applied the identical motion path to the other elements. This assures that the elements will move together.
  • I added Spins to the wheels. Each wheel rotates once each time the wheel travels a distance equal to the circumference of the wheel (that is, diameter times 3.14). See the animated vehicle post for details.
  • I used a second slide for the last part of the animation. After positioning the elements to match the outcome of the first slide, I added animation to drop the tow rope and drive off to the right.

I often spread an animation sequence over several slides. This simply makes it easier to manipulate the animations. Of course, the transition(s) must be automatic and the slide elements must be carefully positioned.

The next idea is a little whimsical:

The saucer’s delivery is a curved motion path combined with a Grow effect. On a second slide, the tractor beam disappears and the saucer exits with another motion path and a Shrink.

I drew the saucer and its cargo using standard shapes. The tractor beam has Soft Edges. The smaller version (that flies in from the left) is a PNG of the original, reduced in size. I couldn’t just shrink the original drawing since the Soft Edge effect is measured in points and doesn’t scale with the rest of the drawing. (There is no logic to this, it’s just how it works.)

The next post will demonstrate similar effects using animated construction equipment.

If you want to experiment with these effects, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file:

Powerpointy blog – animating lists

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.

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