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  • Lisa Langley

Three Ways to Improve Your PowerPoint

Sometimes, presenters overload slides with too much text. They forget about the built-in visual features that PowerPoint offers to improve design and flow. While both content and design need to capture and keep your audience’s attention, we’d like to highlight a few of PowerPoint’s great visual design features. Used the right way, these visuals can support your message by creating associations between what your audience hears and what they see.

Builds, animations, and morph transitions are our top picks for both effectiveness and entertainment value. And remember, they can make your message even more memorable!


A build slide appears to build upon itself. Instead of showing the slide’s information all at once, build slides show information progressively, often bullet by bullet, as the presentation proceeds. Using a build instead of one slide with all the information lets you control the pace of the presentation. Builds allow your audience members to focus on the current point by preventing them from reading ahead.

Using animations and effects to design the build gives you timing options and choices about how to introduce information. Bullet points can fly or fade in from the right, left, top, or bottom. You can trigger each new point with a mouse click. You can also choose to dim previous points on the slide as new points appear—just another way to keep your audience focused.


Animations are a fun and effective way to make presentations more dynamic by engaging your audience and building momentum towards specific points. The most common animation effects are entrance and exit transitions. You can also add sound to increase the intensity of animation effects.

Any type of content can be animated with a number of effects like “appear,” “fade,” “fly in,” “spin,” or “swivel.” Combining animations adds more complexity but also more emphasis on the points or topic you’re presenting.

And it doesn’t stop there either. There are options that extend how the animation works. For example, you can coordinate your rate of speech with the appearance of the content on the slide by using Trigger, Duration, or Delay—or by using a recorded voice-over.

The Morph Transition

The morph makes objects, such as text, shapes, pictures, SmartArt, WordArt, and charts appear animated as they fade in and out of the frame. Slides must have one or more objects in common for this to work, but it provides a new complex look as you transition your slides.

To set up a morph transition, all the objects are created on the first slide. Then, duplicate the slide as many times as you want the slides to change. On each subsequent slide, you can delete, rearrange, or move the objects around, so that they appear to dance around the screen from one slide to the next.

Note to the over-ambitious: As with “text heavy” slides which bog down and bore audiences, the same overuse principal applies to visual elements. Don’t include so many moving parts that your audience members feel as though they’re watching a 3D action movie because they can miss your message. Your audience is taking in both what they hear and what they see, so make it easy for them to remember your presentation.

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