Tuesday, December 11, 2007

PowerPoint Tip: Animation Using Reveals

Recently I needed to animate parts of a graph. I tried the animation tools in PowerPoint, but they would not allow me to reveal the parts of the graph the way I wanted to. If this happens to you when wanting to reveal parts of a graph or a graphic, here is an option to consider.

The technique involves thinking in a different way. Instead of the normal approach of animating each element to come on to a slide, this approach reveals the elements that are already on the slide, but are covered up by other elements. It is like we used to do with overhead transparencies when we would cover part of the transparency up with a piece of paper and reveal each point by moving the paper.

There are two ways to implement this technique. The first is to begin by saving the background as an image. Then, add this image to the slide. Size it so that the image covers up the entire slide (it now looks like the slide has nothing on it). Use the cropping handles to crop the image to the desired size, covering up only the element you want to reveal later. In the animation task pane, apply an exit animation to this image so that when you advance, the image is removed from the slide, revealing what is underneath.

The other way to implement this technique is to use the transparent background technique taught by Glen Millar, who I saw demonstrate it at the PowerPoint Live conference recently. This technique uses the ability to fill a shape with the background of the slide. First, draw a shape, for example a rectangle, on the slide, covering up the element you want to reveal. Format the shape so that it has no line and the fill effect is set to Background. Again, animate this shape so that it exits when you advance on this slide.

Using either approach, you can achieve the building of the elements on the slide in the order that you want to discuss them in. The only downside to this technique is that when you print the slide, the shape or image covers up the other element and it appears that there is nothing there on the slide. To get around this, create a duplicate hidden slide that does not use this technique and print this hidden slide instead of the slide you use for presenting.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

What does that say?

We were driving to Michigan last week and as we were going along the highway, my wife was looking at this one billboard for a while as we approached it. Finally she asked me, "What does that say?" See, the company who created the billboard chose a fancy looking almost script-like font for their name. But while it probably looked really neat as a proof, when you are travelling on a highway and have 1.5 seconds to figure it out, you have no hope. It's the same with our slides. We want our audiences to glance at the slide and return their focus to the presenter, all within a couple of seconds. If we choose fonts that are hard to read or are too small, our audience is left confused or they spend so much time trying to figure out what's on our slide that they don't hear what we say. When selecting fonts for your slides, pick easy to read fonts like Arial, and make them big enough to see.