We’re always big advocates for using PowerPoint animation in presentations. Not only because PowerPoint makes it so simple to integrate, but due to animation’s ability to bring motion, personality, and style to otherwise static PowerPoint slides. Animation helps audiences engage with the content and can guide them through your presentation while ensuring your content is unique, thought provoking, and resonates with viewers.

However, PowerPoint animation can also be a distraction for presenters and audiences. It’s critical for presenters and designers to understand how they stage animations, progressively disclosing information and using attention to highlight specific points for audiences. This mean tracking audience sight line throughout the presentation, deciding what design elements can be heightened through animation, and then designing the slideshow based on viewers’ journey. 

PowerPoint Animation Types and Options

To apply an animation (or multiple animations) to a shape, image, or text – simply click the element you wish to animate, followed by the Animations tab. You’ll see a few options listed, but you can click the down arrow next to Wipe to display more animation variations.

PowerPoint offers four types of Animations: 

Entrance animation: Animations to make elements enter the slide. 

Exit Animation: Animations to make elements exit the slide. 

Emphasis Animation: Animations to highlight elements on the slide and focus attention.

Motion Path Animation: Animations that make elements on the slide move from one place to another along predefined paths.  

Entrance, Exit, and Motion Paths all help direct audiences’ sight, while Emphasis helps highlight specific elements that deserve greater focus After you’ve selected the PowerPoint animation you wish to apply, you can customise the animation further with the various tools in your Animations tab.

powerpoint animation, Understanding PowerPoint Animation Basics

Preview lets you view the animations on your slide without having to open Slideshow mode each time.

Effect Options can be used when animations have further customisation options, such as the direction from which they’ll enter/exit, or the sequence in which elements (such as letters, paragraphs, or chart elements) will appear/disappear. The expand arrow underneath Effect Options shows even more options regarding your animation’s Effect and Timing.

Advanced Animation Effects provides a few useful tools for customising your PowerPoint animation.

Add Animation lets you add further animations to your chosen element, which means you can use multiple animation effects on a single element to combine effects and further customise how your PowerPoint animation looks.

Trigger lets you choose how the animation of an object starts, such as through a button/mouse click or from bookmarks.

Animation Painter can be used to copy all animations applied to an object and replicate them to another object. This is a useful tool for reducing the time taken to create animation effects and apply them to multiple onscreen elements.

Timing tools allow you to control when and how the animations play.  

Start animations On Click, With Previous or After Previous animations.

Duration lets you controls how long length of your animations.

Delay allows you to control how long after the previous animation your chosen current animation should be played. 

Reorder Animation means you can bring your chosen animation earlier or later into the sequence of complete on-slide animations.

The Animation Pane lists all the PowerPoint animations applied to your slide in once place. This allows you to conveniently do the following actions: 

Change the Start option.

Edit the Effect options.

Change the Timings.

Remove animations.

Preview animations. 

Setting up workspace for PowerPoint Animation

To simplify your animation process and ensure you have the right tools are accessible, you should customise your Quick Access Toolbar specifically for animation. This will add shortcuts for your favourite PowerPoint animation tools into your toolbar, speeding up and simplifying your work flow.  

First, to customise your Quick Access Toolbar (QAT), go to the File tab, then Options at the very bottom of the left-hand menu. Select Quick Access Toolbar from the left menu. Here you’ll see two columns: the first is all the tools, actions, and buttons you can select from; and the second is all the commands currently on your QAT.  

powerpoint animation, Understanding PowerPoint Animation Basics powerpoint animation, Understanding PowerPoint Animation Basics

Before you set up this QAT for animation, you might want to save out your current QAT, so you can switch back to it later if you need. To do this, click on the Import/Export button at the bottom of the second column. Then click Export All Customisations from the dropdown menu that appears. 

powerpoint animation, Understanding PowerPoint Animation Basics

A new pop-up menu will appear, asking you where you want to save the QAT. Rename it if you wish, then choose the location and click Save. When you want to go back to this QAT in the future, simply click the Import/Export button again, but choose Import customisation file. 

powerpoint animation, Understanding PowerPoint Animation Basics

Now you can choose your favourite animation tools from the first column. At the top of this column will be a dropdown menu that is labelled Choose commands from:, which will be default set to Popular Commands, which will have missing tools. Change this to Animation Tab to ensure more animationspecific resources are readily accessible 

The first tool you’ll want is Animation Pane, which is integral to creating any PowerPoint animation and a useful resource to have at your fingertips. Simply find Animation Pane in the command list, click on it, then click the Add >> button to add the tool to the bottom of right-hand column, which is your QAT.  

You can reorder the QAT easily using the up and down arrows to the right of the column or remove tools by clicking the item followed by <<Remove.  

While you can customise your QAT as you wish, we recommend you put the following tools on your Animation QAT are: Animation Pane, Animation Painter, Add Animation, Effect Options, Preview Animations, and any of the Show More Effects commands.  

When you’re done, make sure the Show Quick Access Toolbar below the Ribbon option is ticked below the first column. Then click OK, which will place your new QAT right above your workspace. If you forgot a tool, or want to edit your animation workspace, simply reopen the QAT options.

Now you’re all set up to easily and efficiently in create PowerPoint animation. But remember, all design work should begin with writing, conceptualising, and storyboarding. Before you can nosedive into animation tools and customisation options available in PowerPoint, remember that animation can make your slides difficult to print or share with your audiences post presentation. There are some workarounds in terms of either simplifying or printing separately, but this is creating more work after your presentation, so often it’s best to keep it simple. 

Another important consideration for using animation is software compatibility. Be sure you know what technology will be available at your presentation and rehearse beforehand to ensure your speech and slideshow are polished perfectly before taking the stage.

We’ll be exploring PowerPoint animation over the coming weeks with an Ultimate Guide in the works. Stay tuned for more tips and techniques for animating in PowerPoint.

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