Using Motion Path Animation; Issue #177 January 27 2009

PowerPoint Tip - Using Motion Paths

One of the features of PowerPoint that has the potential to annoy the most is the animation feature, where you can make elements of the slide move. It is annoying when the animation does not add to the message being delivered. Having every bullet fly in may look "cool" as a presenter, but audiences find it annoying.

Probably the worst use of animation I have seen was on a slide from a salesperson. They were showing the prospect the inside sales team that would be supporting the prospect after the sale. The slide had the four people in the group, with their picture, name and areas of expertise. To build the slide, the salesperson had each of the head shot pictures bounce in to place. It made the staff look totally unprofessional! I asked the salesperson if they had ever shown those four people how he presented them to prospective clients. After a long pause, he changed the subject.

So why would you want to use movement animation? Because sometimes it explains something better than you could with words. You are probably familiar with simple entrance animation, where you make each element on the slide appear on a click so you can talk about one point at a time. Today I want to suggest you consider a more advanced animation technique when you need it. Motion paths allow you to move an object from one specific spot to another on the slide. How can this help? Let me give you two examples that will hopefully stir your creativity.

A couple of years ago I was speaking to accounting professors and a motion path allowed me to show a number moving from one spot in the general ledger to the appropriate spot in the T-account. Now I know that may be too much accounting speak for some of you, but the point is that showing the number move was exactly what their students needed to see in order to be able to use the knowledge later on. Using a laser pointer or simple appear animation would not have worked as well.

In showing a manufacturing process, you could show a product moving from one stage in the process to another. This can be far more effective than just showing the steps or trying to describe them. If the process involves transportation of the product to a different facility, you can also have the train or truck moving between facilities. In this way, you almost create a movie, but without the expense and hassle usually associated with video production.

If you are not familiar with motion path animation, how can you get started? In my collection of "how-to" videos, there are three videos on animation, including one on the topic of creating and using motion paths. You see me build a motion path step by step and see how it is done. You can get this video here . PowerPoint expert Geetesh Bajaj also has some good reference material on his site at http://www.indezine.com/mailers/sent/20081106.html .