Master Your Message Blog

What NOT to Animate in Persuasive Presentations

When I was younger (much younger), I had a friend who used to put mayonnaise on everything. Not just a little dab ‘l do ya, but a whole whack of the stuff. It was gross … and it obviously destroyed the underlying taste of the food.

So what does that have to do with your presentation?

Well, there are people today that animate just about everything in either Powerpoint or Keynote – or whatever flavour they use for visual support. They’ll fly text in; they’ll fly it out. It will zoom; it will blow up. Just about every effect available will be considered, if not used.

Then there are those that will have beautiful visuals (sometimes cut to a piece of pastoral music) and they’ll flip the screen around or lock each visual into a rotating cube arrangement to animate from one to the other. Completely unnecessary.

On stage, I rant about how weak text is as support for your talk. It will never be remembered and has little impact … unless it’s used sparingly and typically to reinforce a central message. However, there are VERY FEW, if any, reasons to animate it. And yet presenters do it weekly (and weakly!).

Recently, I’ve been distracted by a presentation that used a watery wave effect to dissolve between visuals … and then suddenly … for no reason at all … introduced a zoom effect for the next visual. Then back to the rotating cube. It was hugely distracting.

Think for a moment about this: If you had to have a really important conversation, would you choose to do it in the middle of a busy intersection? Not likely. There are simply too many distractions. Distractions break focus. Lack of focus means the message won’t get across properly.

So … don’t needlessly animate text and visuals in your presentation – it destroys the underlying message  – just like mayonnaise destroys the taste of the underlying food.

All those sliding, zooming words don’t make you look like a space-age wonder – they actually to the opposite. Because anyone can do that.

Software companies have put so much “stuff” into their software, that we often think it’s for a good reason. Well, it’s  to entice us into upgrading our software. That’s just about as useful as it gets. Software companies DO NOT have your presentation in mind when they plan what functions to add.

So don’t fall into the trap of using the effects just because they’re there. Audiences dislike overly-animated presentations intensely. Yes, intensely.

Here’s the key:

Animation must be motivated. It must help you make your point, otherwise, it’s just plain distracting.

It distracts the mind from what you’re saying. It distracts AWAY from the point you’re trying to make.

Remember my teenage friend who drowned the taste of her food? Don’t drown the main message of your presentation in effects that have no business being there.

Hold the Mayo!

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