This blog is about some tips for easily showing some fancy stuff in your PowerPoint presentation to fake animation of the SmartArt feature. I *love* the Office suite’s SmartArt feature and use it a fair bit in Word to graphically display elements where words are just boring! It doesn’t seem you can animate a SmartArt feature, at least the way I would like to automate it. If you know, please add a comment below!

I’ve been working on a side project for a client, and teaching myself some basic video editing skills, mostly by trial & error. I’ve found I’m having a blast working with video, having never had to do anything with it in the past. I’ve used and am learning Camtasia to create a fun video for an internal “day in the life” presentation their department is preparing for. I’ve volunteered to take on the video editing role as no one internally had the skills or interest to take it on and, heck, learning is fun, right?

By the way, thanks to TechSmith for giving MVPs complimentary keys for both Camtasia and Snagit, two outstanding products. I use Snagit nearly every day without fail for documentation and capturing various moments. What I love about it most is professionally adding something to a captured screenshot. Especially for blogging purposes, things like highlighting a certain area or adding text or arrows or circling an object to focus on makes the supporting graphics look just that much better. I cringe when I look at some early blogging days screen shots with amateur hand-drawn circles around objects!

Back to the topic at hand. The primary issue is the department members didn’t want to be “on video” for the entire presentation. So I’m separating the audio from the video, and removing the video part and replacing with some PowerPoint parts, timed with the delivery of the audio, to show on-screen instead. It’s so easy with Camtasia to record a PowerPoint presentation so that using animation or this technique below, I can listen to the audio, and click-through the presentation as it records to time the parts just so. All I have to do is add in the recording of the PPT as the “video” to go with the audio, fine tune the timing if needed, and I’m done. Easy peasy. Of course, being a newbie, this is taking hours to edit what will end up being 8 different people and about a 20 minute video! It’s all fun though! 🙂

What is SmartArt?

Since Office 2007 I believe, SmartArt has been a feature in various Office applications. It is very powerful in the right situations, where some pretty simple graphics can get a point across better than a simple bullet point list for instance.

In PowerPoint (& all Office apps I believe), it’s on the Insert menu here:

Simply put, it’s a collection of graphics in various categories where all you have to do add in the text you want, adjust colours if you want, there you have a great looking graphic for your documentation or presentation. From process diagrams to hierarchies to relationships to lists, there are tons to choose from.

This is a simple example of one type of SmartArt I like, for basic “formulas”:

My brilliant formula

How do you animate it?

Let’s pretend this slide above is part of a presentation and I’d like to talk about this magic formula and have the formula display as I talk. Animation in PowerPoint is pretty well documented on various blogs and help articles for gradually revealing bulleted lists for instance, based on clicks or timing. The same does not seem readily available with SmartArt.

So, here’s what I’ve done and it’s easy. It adds to the number of slides you have, but it’s not that tough to do, and gives you an easy “animation-style” presentation of your SmartArt.

First, don’t “cut” a step in your SmartArt.

Once you try using SmartArt, you realize that “deleting” a bullet or box etc. resets the graphic to auto-display the graphic nicely. If I want to delete a bullet, it alters the entire thing, it doesn’t just leave the space there nicely for me:

Deleting a section doesn’t present this like I wanted!

Here’s how you do it:

1. Get your slide formatted like you want it to end up, filled out.

2. Duplicate the slide for each separate “instance” you want to animate it over. Example: I want my slide to show “Planning” first, then when I click once, have “+ Hard Work” appear, and finally, show “= Success” when I click the 3rd time. Because the slides are the same, to the audience, it looks like it is an animation on one slide, not 3 separate slides. Here’s what my navigation looks like after duplicating my slide so I have 3 copies.

3. Select the individual graphics that you want to hide, and use the Format menu to change the fill to the “No Fill” on the object fill, outline & font fill to hide them. Here you can see I’ve done that to the 4 objects I want hidden on slide #1.

4. On the next slide, only hide the “= Success” graphics.

5. Done! That’s all there is to it!

Here’s a brief video of my example, using Camtasia of course! 🙂