Less is More: Research study shows that Custom Animation in PowerPoint decreases information recall among audiences

Custom Animation is a powerful tool in PowerPoint if used in a balanced way. But there are presenters who use custom animation indiscriminately in their presentations. Information Systems Education Journal has just cleared the clouds over the subject. Information Systems Educations Journal has just published a paper authored Steve Mahar, Ulku Yaylacicegi and Thomas N. Janicki of The University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

A research study was conducted to ascertain the effectiveness on custom animation in PowerPoint presentations. The team recorded two PowerPoint presentations which were completely identical. One with custom animation and the other being plain and simple. The students were split in two groups and each of the group sat through their respective versions.

Contrary to the belief, the team which sat through the presentation that didn't use custom animation to show information scored than the other group. Information recall was higher with static slides. Implications of this study goes beyond the classroom and applies to all the presentations that are delivered across target audience groups. The "bells and whistles" do not add any value if they are not used in proper context. PowerPoint by itself falls under a different category. So if developers are trying to equate it with a video then definitely the end output will not yield desired results.

But this doesn't mean that custom animations should be removed from the application. In fact there are far reaching positive implications, if they are applied in right spirit. Many complex models, information systems, data visualization including charts with multi-dimensional data can be explained easily with custom animation. Depending upon the context it has to used in a fair manner.

Example - Consider, one has to show a single dimensional chart with change in values. Instead of using two repetitive slides, one can easily show the change with the use of custom animation. After the Neighborhood Crime Watch was introduced the local police saw a considerable drop in crime rate. The average line along with the the data points can be moved to their respective destination with the help of custom animation.


The moving graphics might be impressive, but fail to increase the information recall with audience. So the next time you are tempted to add a custom animation, think twice before selecting.

To find out more about the research study please visit: Information Systems Education Journal.

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