Last week I received an email from Microsoft informing me that my “Microsoft Office 365 subscription keeps getting better!” It highlighted several new enhancements that had been automatically added to products including PowerPoint.
Two upgrades particularly caught my eye: “Animated 3D Models” and “Zoom for PowerPoint.”
Animated 3D Models are basically clip art elements on steroids. Instead of just inserting a static graphic, Microsoft has created animated graphics that you can rotate on three axes. Many of the items have different “scenes” that you can select to change the repeated behavior of the element. So you can have your T-Rex running, or sniffing the air, or waiting and then pouncing. A flying saucer can spin in place, or dart back and forth, or emit a beam from beneath the craft.
They are very cute. I can see an OCCASIONAL use brightening up a presentation and giving the audience a laugh. But use them with care… I tried an experiment, creating a presentation with a single blank slide. Adding two 3D elements caused my PPTX file size to shoot up to 55MB!
Zoom for PowerPoint has several uses, but old hands can probably think of it most easily as the next evolution of the old “Custom Show” feature. You can easily create clickable elements on a slide that let you navigate out of sequence to any other desired slide or section of a presentation. One of my favorite uses for this kind of thing is to create several different sections covering distinct topics and then let your audience vote on which one they want you to talk about first, second, and so on. It really makes them feel like you are delivering a customized presentation for their interests.
If you decide to use either of these features in a presentation delivered via web conferencing, you need to go back and read the post I wrote in 2016 after Microsoft introduced “Morph” in PowerPoint. The same caveats apply… If your webinar technology uses an “upload and convert” process, you will almost certainly lose the functionality of these new features. If your software relies on screen sharing, you want to test it carefully to see how well it keeps up with rapid, continuous movements associated with animated behaviors. And remember that many people in your audience may be on slow wifi connections rather than your nice wired office broadband!