Creating animation triggers in PowerPoint
PowerPoint isn't all about naff transitions and clichéd effects - add a touch of class to your presentation with some bespoke animation triggers!

Posted by Michael Allsop on 27 July 2011

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Creating animation triggers in Microsoft Powerpoint

We all (well, many of us) have sat through cheesy PowerPoint presentations that contained lots of pointless and frankly distracting animations or have tried to create a tasteful and informative show without resorting to cheap fly-in thrills. However, when creating presentations it is hard to see beyond the obvious effects that are offered in the custom animation options.

One of the neatest animation features though, hidden away within the custom animation effect options, is the ability to create animation triggers - that is, a particular event, such as clicking on a button, picture or word, can trigger an animation that sits outside of the usual animation sequence. This has the added bonus that the effect can be repeated, or avoided, without hindering the progress of the presentation as a whole.

In the example below created in PowerPoint 2007, though you can do the same thing in 2003 or 2010 versions, we are going to use a teaching aid based on a picture of a river system. For each of the key areas - source, floodplain, etc. - a little icon will indicate that a pop-up information box is available. By clicking the icon the information box will appear, then another click on the box will fade it out.

River system picture inserted into a PowerPoint slide

This is the picture we will use in the presentation.

First, we need to create the icons that will be turned into the trigger buttons:

Button drawn onto the image

Next, the pop-up information box should be created. For this I have used a rounded rectangle that has been formatted to match the round button. Renaming this in the selection pane is also a good idea.

Information box for the river feature

This is what users will see when they click on the round button in the above example.

Now we need to create the animations!

I find it easier to use the custom animation pane for this - Animations -> Custom Animation on the Ribbon - but if you have a preferred alternative method then that's fine.

Create the entrance effect for the pop-up information box. I've chosen to use Fade for this:

Custom animation - Add Effect

Pick your chosen effect, then...

Custom animation - Effect Options menu

...view the Timing tab on the Effect Options dialog box...

Custom animation - setting the Trigger

...and finally, expand the Triggers section and select the appropriate shape.

You will also need to create an exit Fade effect in a similar manner so that the box can be made to disappear again if it is clicked on.

Custom animation pane

This is what your animation pane should look like now.

Next it is time to test the animation effects - launch the show with F5 (or SHIFT + F5 to see the current slide of a multi-slide presentation) and see if your button and pop-up box behave as they should!

On the example presentation attached at the bottom of this blog, I have created some more buttons and pop-up boxes, each animated in the same way as the one above.

The presentation before activating the triggers

This is what the slide will look like when first viewed in Slide Show mode...

The presentation after all the triggers have been clicked

…and this shows the presentation after every button has been clicked.

The file shown above is available for download here. It is saved in a PowerPoint 2007/2010 .pptx format.

Because the animation triggers sit outside of the normal animation sequence, you can run each event as many times as you wish, in any order, so feel free to get click-happy…!

NB: You may also want to read this short blog if your presentation contains several large images.

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