Presentations that lack fluidity and cohesiveness can detract from the message you are trying to convey to your audience.  Not only do smooth transitions make the deck more aesthetically appealing, but they also remove interruptions in the flow of information, which can give an audience an opportunity to tune out.

However, in a business context, there is right way and a wrong way to use PowerPoint transitions. Below I will discuss some transition techniques, from the fairly basic to the more advanced. Test some of these out on your next presentation and seduce your audience into a sweet spot of relaxation and attentiveness.

The simple fix

The transitions tab on the PowerPoint ribbon can be easily missed as it doesn’t contain any functions necessary to the construction of slides. However there are many different options within the transitions tab that can improve your presentations, and a few that can ruin it. PowerPoint transitions

Applying some of the more basic transitions is a simple and fast way to make your presentation flow a bit nicer. Look at the examples below to see the difference a fade transition can make. Without a transition, moving between slides feels like an unplanned glitch. Although it is a small touch, the transition makes things feel professional. You can even check “apply to all” to quickly add this effect to all the slides in your deck.

Speaking of professionalism, I’d be careful when using the other preset transition effects. Even some that appear to be more basic, such as wipe, can look funny when applied to branding templates. Not to say that you shouldn’t use them, but pay attention to how it affects any objects you may have on the top and bottom of your template. Some of the fancier ones may look cool on a slide or two if they have a specific relevance, but your audience is going to get sick of seeing the screen “shatter” or break into “random bars” if you use these effects throughout the presentation.

Remember, you want to look smooth and polished, not like a child whose just been given computer privileges in elementary school.

Advanced PowerPoint transitions 

My personal favorite way to tie two slides together is to keep one (or more!) objects on screen from one slide to another. I like this because it forces you to use the same symbols to talk about the same topic, which facilitates understanding for your audience members. Also, it looks fancy. Below is a short presentation I’ve created to demonstrate some of these different techniques for you.

Slides 1-2

For this transition I kept the toy horse from the first slide to the second slide, but I shrunk it and moved it over to the left so I could add information to the story.

Start out by copying the object from the first slide to the second slide. It should paste in the exact same spot from which you copied it. If this is giving you trouble for some reason, you can also duplicate the slide (by pressing CTRL + D while the desired slide is selected) and deleting out all unwanted objects.

Now its just a case of manipulating the object to the right size and location. To shrink the horse and move it over to the left, I used a simultaneous combination of a motion path and grow/shrink animation. In order to do this, copy the object again and adjust the new copy to the desired size and location. motion path and resize

Now is when those tiny little gray lines, also known as drawing guides, come in handy. When you select the newly copied image (the one which is the size and position you are aiming for) four white boxes will appear around the edges. Line up the drawing guides so they are centered within these boxes. This will give you an exact center point of your object. Knowing this will make your life much easier in the next step, because motion paths start and end points are concerned with an object’s center.

Add a motion path animation that suits your needs (right, left, up, down, etc.). Now adjust the end point so that it is perfectly lined up with the center point that you’ve created with your drawing guides.

drawing guides

In order to add the shrink effect you’ll have to do a bit of math. Open up the format tab and compare the sizes of the two objects and calculate the percentage of size increase or decrease between them.

Now add a grow/shrink animation on the object you are manipulating, and right click effect options in the animation pane. Adjust the size change to match the proportions.

Finally it’s just a bit of fine tuning. Ensure that both the motion path and the grow/shrink are occurring simultaneously by right-clicking on the grow/shrink and selecting “with previous. With both the motion path and the grow/shrink selected, right-click and select “effect options”. Adjust the smooth start and smooth end so that it is the matches for both animations. How much of a smooth start and a smooth end you apply is up to you, but make sure it is the same for both otherwise the effect will look jerky.

smooth start smooth end

For more information on how to master this and other tips click here for our awesome PowerPoint tricks

Slides 2-3

For the transition between second and third slide, the toy is already where I want it to be, however it isn’t facing the right direction. This is an easy fix.

Copy the object from the previous slide (so you are copying the copy you made last time) and paste it on to the succeeding slide. The applied animations will carry over so make sure to delete them out.

Copy the object again and go to Format>arrange>flip horizontal to make the object about face.

Now add an exit fade animation to the old copy, and an entrance fade on the new copy

Open up the animation pane, and right click so on the entrance fade animation, select “with previous” to make the two animations occur at the same time.

Personally I think this looks better if you put a slight delay between the fade out and fade in. I put a 0.25 second delay on the fade in.

Now you have to play with the alignment a little. Every object will be different, so try a few options to see what looks best. Some objects may look great right on top of one another. My toy horse looked best with the new copy a little right of center.

about face

Slides 3-4

This transition is a bit different than the previous too. Instead of manipulating an image I am manipulating what looks like the background. In reality it is a rectangle fit to the size of the slide and filled with the texture, but when you are in show mode you can’t tell. The rectangle hasn’t done anything up until this point in the presentation, but now I’m going to move it in order to create a panning effect.

Note: If you aren’t familiar with the “arrange” functions, this is where you go in order to play around with the layers in your slide. Draw your background rectangle and then go to arrange>send to back.

Start out with a slide that is completely blank other than your background rectangle.

Use a motion path to make the rectangle move in the desired direction. In the example I used a down motion path. I recommend sticking to either up, down, left or right in order to keep things looking neat.

Adjust the motion path to the exact desired ending position. You may want to pick back up on our tricks from slides 1-2, and make a copy of the rectangle in order to get a better idea of where you want it to be. For PowerPoint 2013 users this adjustment process will be easier because of the ghost that appears when you are adjusting a motion path.

These simple tricks help to make a simple PowerPoint presentation look more professional and polished. If you need help with these or any other PowerPoint questions, hop on the BrightCarbon live chat, or check through some of our other blog posts!

Leave a comment

Related articles

Sep 2019

Jamie Garroch puts the ‘power’ in PowerPoint add-ins. He’s written code for dozens of amazing functionality boosters, some for specific organizations and some available for all users, and he's joining the BrightCarbon team! Read on to learn about the experience that Jamie is bringing to BrightCarbon and how it will help clients and the presentation community use PowerPoint more effectively.

Sep 2019

Keeping track of all your company slides is a challenge, especially if you don’t have a proper intranet or server system. SlideKick is PowerPoint add-in that manages presentation content for a flat annual fee. It helps you to make your presentation assets readily available to other users, give everyone the most current information, and quickly search within content.

Leave a Reply

Join the BrightCarbon mailing list for monthly invites and resources

Tell me more!

A big and sincere thanks for all of your superb help and effort in preparing such fantastic material and for all your excellent coaching tips. Look forward to working with you again soon.

Greg Tufnall Siemens