Underwhelmed by the built-in slide transitions in PowerPoint? Or just completely baffled? PowerPoint has almost 50 transitions to choose from. A few of them are tasteful, like the classic Fade or a personal favorite—Push. But many of them are rather strange; the famous Origami folds your slide into a paper crane which turns out to be living and flies off screen, revealing the next slide and distracting your audience for the next few minutes as they ponder your poor transition choices instead of your stellar content.


Credit where it’s due, PowerPoint does subtle transitions well. But on the other end of the spectrum PowerPoint’s “exciting” transitions are downright cheesy and, for most use cases, distracting. PowerPoint lacks solid options in between. When you want to impress your audience, transitioning between an intro slide and a key slide, like a value proposition stating what you can offer a potential customer, adding a slick transition provides that extra polish and that illusive it-doesn’t-even-look-like-PowerPoint quality. We’re hoping slide transitions in PowerPoint get slicker in the future, but until that happens, we’re using this DIY method to add good-looking transitions in ourselves. Take a look at this smooth, colorful transition we built between an agenda slide and the first slide of the deck.

First, let’s set some ground rules. This DIY method to creating slide transitions in PowerPoint is easier to implement while you’re building out your slides. It’s still doable if you have a fully designed deck that you want to spruce up, but it’ll be easier if you add the transitions in while you’re building the slides first time round.

  1. Once you’ve built your first slide, start by duplicating
    Right click the slide in the side panel > Duplicate
  2. Click on the duplicated slide and group all objects together
    CTRL + A to select everything on the slide and CTRL + G to group it

This will be your bottom layer, and you’ll create the transition on top of it

  1. On the second slide, draw several rectangles the width of the slide. Make them different heights for a distinct look.

  1. Recolor the rectangles to colors from your template or brand guidelines and remove the default outline if there is one.
  2. Next, let’s animate! The Fly in animation works well for this transition. Select each of the rectangles, apply the Fly in animation from the Animation tab, and under the Effect options, set to come in from the left.
  3. If you haven’t opened your Animation pane yet, now’s a good time to! On the Animation tab, about halfway down the ribbon you’ll see a green icon labeled Animation pane. This will give you a more detailed timeline of when your animations are happening. In the Animation pane, hold down Shift and select all of the animations then Right Click > Effect Options.
  4. In the pop-up box, slide the Smooth End slider all the
    way to the right and click OK.
    This will make the animations a little sleeker

edit animation window showing position of sliders.

  1. Now you’re going to stagger the entrance of each rectangle. Above the Animation pane are a few options for timing animations. The box labelled Delay allows you to manually enter the time you want your animation to start. Select the first animation in your list and in the delay box type .1 Select the second animation in the list and type .2, and so on and so forth with the rest of the animations. Click Play all to see your handiwork in action!

This process can be a bit time consuming, especially if you have lots of objects to animate. Our free PowerPoint add-in, BrightSlide, has a brilliant Waterfall Delay tool that allows you to add a cascading waterfall delay to all animations applied to selected objects. Simply select all your objects, add an animation, then select Waterfall Delay in the BrightSlide tab. Our handy add-in automatically staggers your animations for a smooth, professional look. Settings give you control over timings and which animations the effect applies to.

  1. Select all of the rectangles and Copy then Paste them onto the same slide. Next, recolor all of the new rectangles to white (or if the color of your slide background if it is different). These rectangles will build on top of the colorful rectangles, creating a clean slate for the content on your next slide. Move the rectangles in line with the color rectangles below them.
  2. Take a look at the Animation pane again. You’ll see that the animations were copied over as well. Now you just need to adjust the delay on them. Select the top white rectangle, and this time, start with a .5 second delay. Then a .6 second delay for the next rectangle, and so on. When you’re finished, your Animation pane should look like this:

Animation pane showing all animations for this transition

  1. There’s your transition done! All that’s left is to build out the rest of your slide on top of the beautiful transition you just built.

If you change up the shapes, the same concept can be used to create many different slide transitions in PowerPoint.  What can you come up with?

There are some fantastic tutorials for creating slide transitions in PowerPoint on YouTube if you are eager for more. And if you want to learn more PowerPoint wizardry, check out our bank of PowerPoint design blog posts.

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Written by

Kate McGrady

Managing design consultant

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