Are cool animations in slides helping or hurting you?
Updated: Oct 7, 2018
“I would also like to have such GIFs in my slides. I've seen them in other presentations too and they are so cool!” a client told me when I showed her the below video and similar ones.
The videos of such slides with looped movement in them were taken at a big and expensive event in Brasilia, Brazil. The event featured well known entrepreneurs sharing their insights on how to grow companies and make them successful.
My client seemed disappointed when I strongly advised against using such animation.
Why is it a bad idea?
Through evolution, one of the kind of stimuli our eyes have developed to pick up on immediately is moving objects. If an object is moving, even if it is close to the edge of our field of vision, it will attract our attention. This is hard wired in us.
Now, if there is constant movement in a slide behind or next to a speaker, the audience’s eyes will be attracted to it. And it will distract them from the verbal message. Listening to the speaker will require more mental energy than if their attention was not divided and if they were able to solely focus on the presenter’s message, connect with him or her and built trust.
The audience will also remember less of the message because they had to keep mentally blocking out the annoying movement. Even if some of them might have thought the GIFs were cool because they were a novelty compared to other presentations.
A useful guideline when considering whether to use animation in slides is if it serves a purpose. Adding movement just because it seems to be an emerging trend in some circles and/or because some successful people are doing it, without understanding how it will affect the audience’s attention, is not a good idea.
How do you use animations in your slides? Do you always know what effect they will have on your audience?