33 comments on “To animate or not to animate…..

  1. 1) No, and particularly not Prezi (and definitely not the flames of hell in Keynote)
    2) Keynote – because it works well, slide transitions are beautiful, and it transfers to i-Devices
    3) The same as they do now – whichever way you look at it (even Prezi), about 99.9% of presentations tell a story, and even if you hide it, you still have a linear format underneath

    That is all

    • Morning Gavin,

      thanks for that amazingly swift reply (17 minutes to go and counting!)

      I agree with you about Prezi (because it doesn’t seem to add much to the equation – though it did promise more (see below). Flames of hell? I’m going off them a bit. Perhaps.

      But what I THOUGHT Prezi promised (when I first saw it) was a way of moving around content which didn’t go in lines. I was wrong. I frequently build in links which allow me to go in different directions at some point in a presentation, but I am waiting (in vain) for software that allows me to skit around.

      Got to rush!!


  2. Few people ‘skit around’, Jeremy – unless you’re doing true audience interaction in the sense of ‘choose one of these options to continue my presentation’ then what you’re doing is telling a story, and a story has a beginning, a middle and an end.

    I’ve yet to see a Prezi which is as free-form as the tool allows – they’re all just linear stories with the added twist of making you want to vomit when you watch them. Now, of course, many PowerPoint presentations can also induce feelings of nausea, but perhaps for a different reason…

    Have a good webinar!

    • Hello Gavin,

      the webinar worked well technically (both times). I have no idea if it induced nausea!

      Maybe ‘skitting around’ wasn’t the right language to use. But I’ve always wanted the freedom to react to how a group or a topic takes me/us without having to go back out of display mode and show everyone the software ‘underwear’. That’s all.


  3. I do succumb to using a few tricks in my presentations, but I prefer to follow Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen guidelines. He’s got a terrific blog and his insights make sense. I put very few words on my slides when I present at a conference.

    I often use Keynote because I have a Mac and I think it looks more sophisticated than PowerPoint. I use Prezi when I want to spice things up as a change of pace.

    My crystal ball’s rather dusty so I don’t know what’s around the corner. Holograms?

    • Oooh, I like the idea of holograms! That would be a rather nice way to demonstrate techniques/show people in action 🙂

      You’ve kind of hit the nail on the ‘head’ with your comment about spicing things up. I wonder what that means exactly (I mean I have the same instincts sometimes, I think), and why is Prezi the way to do it, I wonder….


  4. Hi Jeremy!

    Good points raised here. Not a specialist in presentations, far from that. But I will tell you what I like:

    1. I like simple presentations, not with too many tricks and like Gavin said, not Prezi – not a fan of it at all, because no matter how simple one may try to keep it, it always makes me dizzy and distracts me.
    2. I have only used Powerpoint so far but I have seen presentations in Keynote which were great. I’d like to try it sometime.
    3. I am not sure, but I think that for quit a while they will remain the same as they are now.

    Good luck!

    • Hi Vicki,

      sorry it’s taken me a few days to reply to your comments (thanks for coming along).

      Increasingly, I’m beginning to think ‘simple’ is the answer. I think maybe before I was too excited about the lovely effects you could create. Maybe I’m a bit older and wiser now!!

      (Keynote really IS better now, I think)


  5. hi

    this is not bad (still beta thgh) – http://www.rvl.io/
    i am not a big fan of anumation unless it fits the particular slide.

    i also like these tongue firmly in cheeks presentation design principles from classhack 🙂 (http://classhack.com/tips):
    Presentation design tip #1: Replace your bullet points with pictures of kittens. If it still makes sense, you can keep the bullets.

    Presentation design tip #2: To find the optimum number of bullet points for your presentation, take the number you were thinking and multiply by zero.

    Presentation design tip #3: Use a stopwatch to time how long it takes to read the points on each slide. Then delete those slides.

    good luck with the webinar!

  6. 1. I’d prefer a presentation full of images, less text, fewer animations, one type of transition from one slide to another, no bullet points, big fonts (30). This would would make me focus more on the saying than the reading. BTW, I appreciate creativity: presenter creating his/her own templates.
    2. I use both PowerPoint and Prezi (try to be careful with movement/rhythm of slides to avoid dizziness). My students love it…So I have got to think about the audience as well, not only on what I like as a presenter.
    3. I think they will remain the same…new software maybe? something better than Prezi, perhaps.

    Miguel Mendoza (Caracas, Venezuela)

    • Hi Miguel,

      thank you so much for coming along to my blog.

      That’s interesting (that your students prefer Prezi). Any idea why that might be the case?

      I think you are absolutely right that we have to take the audience into account. I wonder how we could do some really good research on that?!


  7. 1 Do you like visual presentation with lots of tricks, flashes and animations? (or Prezi with its swoops and turns)?
    No, I don’t like them at all. Most Prezi presentations make me dizzy, actually. I’m not against animations in presentations though. Sometimes an animation helps to illustrate your point (e.g. if you’re showing a map that changes over time). I truly believe some people can make awesome presentations in Prezi – artistic people, not me. But my rule of thumb is, only add a visual/sound effect if it carries information with it.

    2 What presentation software do you like to use and why?
    I like Keynote, because I can keep things simple.

    3 What will future presentations look like (e.g. what’s just round the corner)?
    I guess it depends on the type of presentation you’re talking about. Online presentations, like webinars, work best for me when the concepts/ideas are presented in short videos like the ones used at udacity.com and khanacademy.org, followed by a discussion/task/etc. I would like to see more people using Audience Response System (e.g. polleverywhere.com) in conferences, or any other situation where your audience is too big to carry out a group discussion.

    • Hi Adriana,

      thank you so much for coming along.

      I completely agree with your rule of thumb. I would restate (and add to it) I think by saying: ‘Only add a visual if it carries information and/or if will enhance the points you are trying to make.’ Because there are times when we can make what we are saying more meaningful, more entertaining, more memorable with good visuals etc?

      Thanks for udacity.com and the Khan academy. The ‘Flipped Classroom’ is indeed an extraordinarily elegant concept…


  8. “No noble thing can be done without risks.” (Michel de Montaigne)

    I believe using different (not many) flashes and animations make a presentation more vivacious and impressive just as you said. And why should we ignore those useful applications while we can make the best out of them? Just because of failing?! All those problems may happen any time and any where (even in Powerpoint).
    I think using ‘flame’ animation is not a bad idea. Why should we always care about face?
    It could even make that Keynote speech unforgettable.
    The future of presentation seems to be unimaginable with the fast growth of technology.
    But whatever will be, will be Marvelous.

    I look forward to your webinar,
    And happy rejuvenating your blog, it looks so educational.

    sara hejazi

    • Hi Sara,

      thanks for coming along to my blog, and thank you thank you for your comments about my ‘new look’ site.

      I like your use of the word vivacious because I enjoy making things lively and interesting. The question, of course, is whether, if you go too far, it puts people off.

      I guess it’s a matter of fine judgment!


  9. Hi Jeremy,
    1. I prefer the KISS approach – animation to bring in new points, but I tend to use the simplest possible – normally ‘appear’ and no sound, because that’s distracting. I remember watching a classmate’s presentation at school where he’d got the ‘incoming’ sound effect from the Worms computer game on every slide. It was funny the first time, then got a bit grating! (not that I’m suggesting any similarities!)
    2. I use Powerpoint for Mac – I’ve tried Keynote on the iPad, and while it looks good, it frustrates me. With the slideshark app, I can put my ppt on the IPad without losing any of the formatting, which is great.
    3. I believe that future presentations will be much like those we have now. What I hope though is that the general level of presentation skills improves as they become a more integral part of education. I was lucky at secondary school because we had to do three or four presentations a year from the age of 11. It’s made a massive difference to my awareness of presentation skills.

    • Hello Sandy,

      thanks so much for coming along and leaving your comments.

      Your noise/worm story reminds me of a brilliant presenter I know who got into a phase of using whooshes and bangs all through his presentations. By the time he’d finished (the 3rd time I watched him) I felt like I’d been assaulted!

      Thanks for slideshark app! Does it work the other way round (Keynote to ppt). You can save a Keynote as a ppt, but you lose lots of animations etc.

      I think my mantra now should be something like ‘does this (animation) add to the audience’s experience. Would something simpler do just as well?’

      And as for your school….wow! Yes, presentation skills are absolutely vital and should be taught to all, I reckon.


      • I’m not sure about changing Keynote to ppt, but I think you can upload Keynote to slideshark without losing animation too, although I wouldn’t like to guarantee it!

    • Hi Carla,

      yes, we are on the ‘same page’. Your post is amazing and thought-provoking (and makes me, as a presenter, very nervous!)

      The lesson I draw from it is that standards of presentation have been rising (?) and so people, quite naturally, expect professionalism. That’s certainly the thought that informs the way I prepare. Sometimes the magic works. Sometimes, er, it doesn’t….


  10. Hi Jeremy,
    I’ve just stumbled across this post and am sorry I missed your webinar.
    Having treated myself to an iPad, I’ve been playing around with alternatives. I think ‘Haiku Deck’ is beautifully simple. You can export to PPT or Keynote. I love the image search function (it takes the keyword and search for images under Creative Commons).

    • Hello Hannah,

      thanks so much for this. I know about ‘Haiku Deck’ a little bit – I mean I have it, but I haven’t used it. You’ve encouraged me to give it another go!

  11. First off, I am new to the blog and want to thank you Jeremy for it and everyone above who has commented and shared for doing so. What follows is a long reply to a great post.

    1 Do you like visual presentation with lots of tricks, flashes and animations? (or Prezi with its swoops and turns)?

    In general, I prefer info-graphics with little text. Info-graphics help to show the relationship between ideas and information visually. This is especially helpful as images rapidly become extremely important in our aliterate culture. It seems to me the visual language is starting to be better used and more widely found and communally understood. Neil Postman spoke about this trend to visual literacy 20 years ago!

    For in-person public presentations, I prefer static (cuts-only) transitions. They work well for me as an audience member. For the alternative, distance based presentations, motion graphics (Prezi style) are helpful for me in better understanding and engaging with the topic.

    2 What presentation software do you like to use and why?

    I use PowerPoint. It is easy to use and with it I can create info-graphics with ease. Prezi’s demand that I publicly publish my presentation or pay a fee is a deterrent for me. I am looking for freeware alternatives ATM.

    3 What will future presentations look like (e.g. what’s just round the corner)?

    The digital generation (http://www.wired.com/magazine/2013/04/genwired/) will likely demand less talk and more access to the information itself. Speeches will probably be much shorter and less frequent. In addition, projectors may give way completely to display on portable personal phones and tablets, and the ‘presentations’ they carry might look more like a blog post, wiki page, or RSS aggregator app like Fling. Real-time chat and file sharing will be more prevalent during speeches. As well, it is likely we will be ‘meeting’ in the cloud.

    In a way this blog post seems to me to have many of the characteristics of a speech/presentation (and much of the above as well). A topic is presented to an audience of people who then make comments and interact with the speaker and each other. The significant difference seems to be the delay of time, or the lack of a unified time for this meeting. To me this is a benefit. It is more personal than most traditional speeches I have seen. Also, it offers the ability to take time to reflect and ponder issues and then come back and continue the sharing of ideas. This is something I value much.

    Which leads me to wonder, how is this post not a speech?!

    To stretch into the future a bit more (50 to 100+ years), and to fall back on the idea mentioned above regarding ‘visual language,’ I would like to suggest that developments in brain-computer interfacing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain%E2%80%93computer_interface) will likely change much about how we communicate and share ideas and knowledge. It is far beyond the scope of my comments here to explain and develop my thoughts completely, and I will summarize the key points/features this technology is very likely bringing. They include:

    1. The uploading and downloading of ideas, knowledge, ability, memory and information from brain to brain across networks.

    2. Being able to ‘SEE” what another person is ‘SEEING’ in their mind and vice versa.

    3. Communicating much of our personal experiences, ideas, imagination and thought through a completely (or predominately) visual language.

    Again, thanks Jeremy for your thought-provoking post. Looking forward to more!


    • Hi Patrick,

      thanks so much for coming along and leaving your comments. I enjoyed reading them.

      I am unhappy about Prezi like that too – though of course neither Powerpoint nor Keynote come for free!

      I do think that blogs can be a form of presenting (in the way you suggest) But the face-to-face-nowness of live performance still takes some beating I think?

      As to the future, your Wired article (and the brain downloading stuff) reminded me of an article a week ago about some of the new Yotube entrepreneurs:


      As it happens I know (vaguely) two of them. But their short self-rerencing and very clever vids may tell us something about the future. Perhaps that because ‘small’ is beautiful is a feature of modern life. I wrote about this: https://jeremyharmer.wordpress.com/category/talks/

      Anyway. I am broadly in agreement with your idea that images pack power, maybe more than visual text, in a presentation.


      • Hi Jeremy,

        Thanks for the links. Building on the small is beautiful idea… seems apps like Twitter’s Vine are feeding this desire… in this case small being 6 seconds of video to get your message across.

        To share further on this idea of images enhancing learning, I stumbled upon an RSA video where they discuss a bit of research they did in determining the effect on learning their RSA Animates videos have on the audience. Seems it clearly is a very positive influence.

        The trouble is, I think making an RSA Animate for a speech is somewhat beyond the average presenter!lol! Maybe that could be the next killer app, one which can ‘animate’ your speech on its own.

        All the best and thanks again,


  12. I came across some interesting advice recently which may be of use to you


    Basically the idea is that less is more. I attend webinars regularly (including yours :)) and find that the more text there is on the slide the more distracted I am from the presenter. I would rather listen to the pearls of wisdom live and look at a later date at a handout or the slides, which if presented properly, act as a trigger for my memory.

    And please, never, never do what one lecturer did recently which was to virtually read from his slides for 1 hour – I have never come across such an effective cure for insomnia!

    I am looking forward to part 3 of the Harmer lectures which if I remember correctly is this week. Thank you for being such an entertaining presenter

    • Hi Bob,

      thank you very much for that link about how to create a presentation. It’s well done, isn’t it! It reminds me of a presentation that Joshua Davies https://www.facebook.com/joshuawdavies?fref=ts frequently offers .

      I remember once being i a presentation which I couldn’t leave. The presenter read from her slides, more or less, and it was when the screen said 5/42 that I lost the will to live!


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