Learning to Learn: Building a Visual Vocabulary – PowerPoint Transitions

Today I am introducing a new concept.

PowerPoint is a visual tool.

Therefore, we must build a “Visual” vocabulary to use it effectively.

building a visual vocabulary for PowerPoint transitions - Dr. Nitin Paranjape

Try this exercise (20 min)

A new way to learn

I am sure you know about PowerPoint Transitions. But the question is – do you use them?

A more important question is – Do you use them in the right way?

When to use a transition? Good question.

Transition is used BETWEEN two slides. If there is a THOUGHT transition between two slides, we should use a transition.


  1. Before / After
  2. Wrong / Right
  3. Good / Bad
  4. Slow / Fast
  5. Cheap / Premium
  6. you got the idea …

That brings us to another question: WHICH transition to use?

PowerPoint 2013 has 46 different transitions. Earlier versions have lesser numbers.
The concept is very simple. You must use the MOST APPROPRIATE transition.

Just like we choose the right dress for the occasion or we choose the wine based upon the menu or we choose the mode of transport based upon whether we are on a holiday or work or rushing to the hospital…

Concept is clear but the actual usage is not. Why? Because we just don’t know how each transition LOOKS – visually.


Reading the names of transitions is useless. Even the icon representing each transition is static. Transition is DYNAMIC. That is why we have to SEE each transition to understand how it looks.

The process of learning that is called building a Visual Vocabulary.

I have bored you enough with the theory. Time to practice.

Download the sample presentation

Visual Vocabulary building exercise: Phase 1

  1. Open the presentation
  2. Go to the second slide. DO NOT run the presentation.
  3. Click the Transitions tab
  4. Click on one transition
  5. Click on the PREVIEW button
  6. Observe what happens
  7. Repeat the process for EVERY transition

What happened? It will not take more than 20 minutes – may be lesser.

But in the process your BRAIN has imbibed the visual effects.
Remember – Our brain does not forget visual stuff.


You have a world class visual vocabulary for transitions now.

USING the visual vocabulary: Phase 2

Repeat the process shown above.

But this time, THINK of a real life situation – in your context – as to where you will find this transition relevant and useful.

You don’t have to write down anything. Just think.

Think about recent presentations you created.
Presentations you have seen your colleagues deliver.
Think about your job profile, your expertise, your areas of interest.

Soon you will find the matches.

Don’t strain too much. It is not a must. But the fact that you have started thinking about the APPLICATION is the key achievement.

Start using the vocabulary

Now that you have built the vocabulary – use it.

No extra effort is needed. Next time the need arises of showing a thought transition, your brain will automatically prompt you. It will also shortlist few transitions which are relevant. You can then choose the best one.

Try it and let me know if it helped you.

Based upon this new method of learning, I will announce a Quiz tomorrow.


4 thoughts on “Learning to Learn: Building a Visual Vocabulary – PowerPoint Transitions”

Comments? Suggestions? Wish list?