Virtual meeting IQ: Q&A

The great news is that Effective Virtual Meetings:  Seven Ways to Boost Your Virtual Meeting IQ is that it was interactive and there were a ton of questions.  The bad news is that when there’s 500 people in the audience, you can’t get to them all.Q&A

Following is one that came in that I didn’t get to during the presentation:

Victoria D. asked, “I have heard people say that animations in PPT presentations are not ‘professional’ but I have always used them to great success.  I notice you use animations.  Can you comment?”

Fair question, Victoria.  First, I believe that any tool, used in moderation, can be useful.  For that reason, I mostly avoid blanket statements like “don’t use animations.”  They’re like bullet points – I minimize their usage, but that doesn’t mean avoid them altogether.

The key is to use something with a specific purpose.  The bad news is that many use animations to create cheesy effects.  I don’t swirl in, fly in, or make little things bounce.

If you review the recording, here’s where you’ll see animations:

Slide transitions.  In a few spots I like fading between slides instead of a crisp transition.  But it’s not on every slide.

The “take action” slides.  Because these were specific instructions (e.g., step one, step two…), I built them out one by one using a simple “appear” build.

And in two cases I use a grow effect on a screenshot to draw attention to something (in this case, a subset of the overall screenshot).  Again, it doesn’t do any backflips on the way in :).  I do this selectively for the same reason the Apple OS (and now Windows Vista and 7) show motion when you open or close some things – it gives the viewer a fraction of a second to see what’s going on.

Note that in most cases, however, I use multiple slides rather than builds/animations.  Building out the ‘mapping behaviors to features’ matrix, for example, was five separate slides.

Use animations when they’re communicating something specific to the message (like motion or directionality) or assist the viewer with understanding the portion of the slide you’re speaking to (an alternative to an annotation, perhaps).  But generally, I’d wholly avoid anything that just adds an effect.

Communicate, don’t try to dazzle.

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