Build Information with Custom Animation in PowerPoint

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In this article, you’ll learn about building your information in incremental steps with animation. This helps to enhance the clarity of understanding for your audience.

Using PowerPoint Custom animation in business presentations:

I know what crossed your mind when you read the title.

Yes! We too hate flying bullets, swiveling sentences and dancing animations. In this article, we’ll talk about using animation to enhance clarity of your message in business presentations.

Most people use animation only to make the bullet points appear one after another. Some advanced users make the points dim after animation. There is so much more to animation than this basic feature.

Why use animations in business presentations?

Reason 1: Your audience has limited capacity to process information

To give a simple analogy, imagine your audience’s mind as a blender. When you stuff the blender up to the lid, you can’t expect it to blend. There is a limitation to the load a blender can take at one time.

The same way, your audience too has limited capacity to process information. When you stuff your slide with a lot of information and present it all at once, your audience gets overwhelmed and tunes off.

If you want your audience to understand and retain your information, you need to chunk the information before presenting to them in incremental steps.

Reason 2: Your business audience prefers to switch off than to process complex information

Business audience always has a tendency to skim through the pages on a slide. If they perceive that the information presented is complex, they develop a mental block.

If you present your information in incremental steps, you overcome the mental resistance and help them get your information clearly and completely.

Examples of creative animations in PowerPoint

Source: PowerPoint Charts & Diagrams CEO Pack Vol. 1

When should you use animations in your presentation?

  • Here is a simple rule. If the information on your slide can’t be understood in one breath (the time it takes for one complete inhalation), you may need to build your information in small steps.
  • Using animation is also helpful when you expect unreasonable criticism from your audience for your opinion. By building your information in steps, you can get their agreement at each stage, which builds momentum for the final agreement.

Related: 5 Irritating Ways to Use Animation

How should you build the information in your slides?

A good animation makes your audience focus on the message rather than the animation.

So, build information by breaking your message into logical parts. This helps your audience to group and organize information in their head.

For example:

  • If you want to present a graph, start by showing just the axes. Explain the parameters being compared. Then show the chart by series. Take them through your key observations. Finally highlight the specific inference that supports the assertion on your slide title.
  • If you want to present a 3 stage process, show the first stage and talk about it. Show the second stage and talk. Finally, finish with the third stage and the corresponding explanation.

Benefits of build:

Using build is like playing hopscotch. You can cover a big distance one block at a time. It makes understanding of long and complex information easy.

Here is a pictorial representation of not using build and using build in presenting the same information:

When you don’t use build, this is how your audience receives information:

As soon as you project the slide, your audience quickly scans the slide and tunes off. Your explanation may be completely ignored. Your role as a presenter is sidelined.

Even if they do listen to your explanation carefully, they may not be able to match your explanation with the relevant parts of the slide.

On the other hand, when you use custom animation, this is how your audience receives information:

You provide explanation in small doses at the right stages to help them grasp information.

Your audience waits for you to complete the loop. They are constantly engaged in your presentation. Your role as a presenter becomes integral to the presentation.

You can check their understanding periodically and move them forward by holding their hands. Naturally, their understanding gets much deeper and clearer when you use build in your presentation.

  • Build helps to guide your audience attention. So, there is very little chance that they’ll skip information and wander off. This puts control in your hands.
  • In an earlier article on visualization of presentations, we discussed that human mind stores information as connections. When you use custom animation you establish an additional connection in the dimension of time (how things changed over time). Your audience gets another mental hook to remember your information better.


  • Animation requires you to prepare thoroughly. You should remember your animation sequence, so you don’t get taken by surprise by what pops up on the screen.
  • Any moving object attracts audience attention immediately. If you use animation on a slide to attract their attention and have no valid explanation for that animation, you disappoint your audience. Never use animation merely for entertainment.
  • When your animation takes a long time to appear, your audience will get restless. Make your animations are mild and fast. If for some specific reason you chose a slower animation, wait for the animation to finish before you start the talk.
  • Make your animation consistent. If the same element is animated in two different ways, your audience may end up getting confused.


Since animation has the ability to make your complex information easy, it is an important parameter in evaluating the effectiveness of your slides. If you use animation well, you can make your message truly memorable.

Additional Resources:

Optional reading: Science behind the power of animation:

Knowles Andragogy theory suggests that adults learn new information by moving from known to unknown, in stages. Since custom animation helps to present information in stages, it helps audience to understand new information easily – in the way they like to learn.

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