Looking at how easy and impactful animation can be during PowerPoint presentations; it helps to outline how users can animate data visualisation to capture and retain audiences’ attention.

Data visualisation is an important means for presenters to curate and simplify the information being shown to audiences. If you animate data visualisation, you can help guide audiences through the information, concealing and revealing data for emphasis.

Timeline Animation

Animation can be a great way to bring a simple timeline to life in your presentation. How you animate it is up to you, but here’s a simple example to offer guidance.

  1. With this timeline, you want the horizontal line and dates of the timeline to appear first. To do this, group the elements you want to appear first together. To group elements, select all the objects you want in the group, then right-click and select Alternatively, the keyboard shortcut for this is Ctrl + G.
  2. Now that this is grouped, we’re going to add a horizontal Wipe animation, so it draws in from the left. With the group still highlighted, go to the Animation Tab, then select the green Wipe entrance animation from your effects library.
  3. This will apply the animation and show a preview. PowerPoint’s default Wipe animation is From Bottom, so change it by clicking Effect Options
    animate data, Animate Data Easily in PowerPoint
    For this example, each label on the timeline will animate in one after the other in chronological order. First, I want each vertical line on the timeline to Wipe in from the timeline itself.
    animate data, Animate Data Easily in PowerPoint
  4. Select all the vertical lines in your timeline, then go to the Animation tab again and select the green Wipe For the top two lines, leave the Wipe direction as From Bottom. For the bottom line, click Effect Options and change direction to From Top, so it will look like it’s coming out from the timeline itself.
  5. For the text labels, we’ve used a simple Fade. Select the text labels, then go to the Animation Tab and click on Fade. animate data, Animate Data Easily in PowerPoint
  6. Now that everything has an animation applied, you can reorder your animations in the Animation Pane.
  7. Select all your animations and set them to Start After Previous. Now they will happen directly after each other.
  8. Ensure you tweak the Duration to get the timing right, after all, too long an animation might lose audience attention.

Excel Chart Animation

PowerPoint makes it very easy to animate charts, particularly ones created through Excel. Within this example, we’re using a column/bar chart, so Wipe animation upwards helps illustrate this data. To insert an Excel chart, click the Insert tab and click Chart to open the various options available.

animate data, Animate Data Easily in PowerPoint To apply the animation, do the following:

  • Click to select your graph.
  • Click Wipefrom the Animation tab, which will apply animation to the entire graph.  animate data, Animate Data Easily in PowerPoint
  • You’ll want to change the advanced settings for your animation, so elements appear gradually – these settings are found under Effect Options. These settings are found under Effect Options.Firstly, ensure the direction is From Bottom. As for the Sequencing, let’s explore your options:  animate data, Animate Data Easily in PowerPoint By category: animate data by each category on the X-axis of the chart. If each category includes one bar, each bar will be animated individually. If there are multiple bars in each category, they will all be animated at the same time.
  • By series: animate data by each individual colour within a category on the X-axis of the chart. Each set of bars of one colour will be animated together.
  • By category animate across the X-axis, showing each dataset by category.
  • By element in series: Each series (or set of bars of one colour) will be animated individually. Each bar of one colour will animate individually one after the other, followed by the next colour.
  • By element in category: animate data by each category on the X-axis but slows down the animation. Each bar will animate one after the other, so if you have a chart like our example, it will simply animate each bar in the order in which it appears in your graph.

Clicking the expand arrow under Effect Options allows you to customise further, such as ‘Start animation by drawing the chart background’. This will allow the background to gradually appear before your graph elements begin to appear.

animate data, Animate Data Easily in PowerPoint Choosing the Right Animation for Your Chart

If you don’t like the appearance of your data visualisation animation, you can test other options by clicking on the animation name in the tab. The effects that you applied will be maintained with the new type of animation. Test and experiment with entrance, exit, and emphasis animations to understand what works with your data. Also, remember your timing options to customise animation duration, delays, and starts based on your charts. Here are some general recommendations for different chart types.

Bar Charts: For bar charts like the one in the example above, the Wipe, Peek In, and Fade would all work well.

Pie Charts: For pie charts, try the following animations: Wheel, Zoom, and Fade.

Stacked Area: For stacked area charts, try the following animations: Fade, Appear, or Wipe.

Line Charts: A good choice for line charts is Wipe but be sure to select the animation direction From Left to follow the direction of your chart.


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