Slide Transitions: Everybody's Changing

I remember the first time I saw the features on PowerPoint that allowed you to animate text and slide transitions. I played around with it for awhile and soon had things zooming in and bouncing around and what not. My initial thought was, “This is neat.” After playing around a little more, I had another thought: “This is too much.” And when I added sound effects—the screeching tires, the breaking glass, the ka-ching of the cash register—I thought, “This is way too much.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, the animation and transition features on slide presentation software are pretty impressive. And, depending on your content and audience, they might all be appropriate. However, the reality is that for most presentations, less will be more. Once again, I find myself returning to that great piece of advice from Leonardo da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Having movement in a slide presentation can certainly make it more interesting. However, too much movement, or “gimmicky” types of movement, can easily become a distraction. In such situations, your message (and possibly your credibility) can suffer.

Keane and slide transitions
Keane performing in Washington D.C.

In a future post, I will share some specific tips about using transitions and animations in a slide presentation. I will also show the main ones that I use. However, given that the Christmas season is fast approaching (as I write this) and people are in a festive mood, I thought I’d have a little fun.

So, using the 2009 version of Keynote, I animated the lyrics to a terrific song by the English alternative rock band, Keane. The song is one of my favourites by them and, fittingly for this post, is entitled Everybody’s Changing.

And so, I give you Keane + Keynote … “Keane-note”.

Photo courtesy of angela n.

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  1. Interesting observation, John. Great idea with an interlude, by the way. To be honest, I also went trough this animation amusement cycle: wow!-I can do it myself! and, finally, better not to. But I guess a little animation now and then would not hurt 🙂 Just recalled a saying by Albert Einstein: Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

    1. Thank you, Yulichka, for the comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the video. And that quote by Einstein is one that I use often in my presentations. It is indeed a great one. The problem with PowerPoint and other slide presentation software is that they have been used so poorly in the past that many people have swung too far in the other direction, saying that they should never be used. Of course, the key is to use it properly.

  2. Nice job, John! You really had everything in sync with the music.
    Keynote is an amazing software, so much better than PowerPoint.
    Unfortunately, so many people use all the bells and whistles it offers when Clean and Simple is the way to go.
    Glad you’re a Mac man, also!
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Fred. Much appreciated! Getting everything in sync took … let’s just say, a bit of time. Some of the transitions I could set on automatic but others I had to do manually as the song played. Once I got that right, it was a relatively simple matter to match up the video with the audio on iMovie. Some of the synchronicity seems to have been lost in the upload to YouTube, but on the whole I’m happy with it and, in any event, it was time to ship the product and move on.
      The main reason that I switched to Keynote was because it was so much easier to drag, drop and centre video. Using video in PowerPoint was just so cumbersome. I know that PowerPoint has improved in this area, and I still try to keep on top of the main new items in PP, but I am too happy with the Mac and its software to change back.
      And you are absolutely right about keeping it clean and simple. I probably use a grand total of four or five of the Keynote transitions and even then, usually not all in the same slide presentation. That’s why doing this video was so much fun!

  3. Excellent slides. Excellent music. Excellent show. I learn much from you, John.
    Now, try it with a Ramones song. 😉

  4. Faisal said it above: great transitions matching the music. I enjoyed it much, almost laughing as your point of not overusing them is almost detracted by the joy of the video you prepared!! 🙂 Nice irony.
    Now, small feedback: while reading the post on the transitions, I had my lateral-vision caught in seeing this kind of snowflakes crossing the screen from the upper right corner to the bottom left 😉 Are they appropriate? 🙂 (Maybe, Christmas time is coming.)

    1. Hi Javier. Muchas gracias! I am glad that you enjoyed the slide show. As I watch it now, I can still see room for improvement, but there comes a time when you just have to let it go. It was fun to make because I would never use that many transitions in a “real” presentation.
      Thanks for the comment about the snowflakes. It is something that WordPress offers every time this year. I can turn it on or off as I like. Some people have said that they like the Christmas touch; others said it is mildly distracting. I have to admit that when I watched the slide transition video, I found it a bit distracting as well. I don’t mind it over the posts, though. Perhaps I’ll turn it off for a few days and then turn it on just before Christmas.
      Thanks again for your ongoing support of the blog.

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

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TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

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CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

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Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

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Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

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World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

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HR Specialist, World Health Organization

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John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

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CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

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