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12 Presentation Tips For Designing Smarter Not Harder

presentation tips - design faster and better

Have you ever had an amazing experience, start to finish, with designing a presentation?

My guess is probably not, but certainly you’ve had projects that felt right and others that went nowhere — like that 115th revision to a presentation design.

Here is a list of 15 things you might find helpful when dealing with a complex presentation project. 


How To Crop PowerPoint Images Like A Pro

presentation tips - how to crop powerpoint images like a pro cover.jpg

In a perfect world, every image you insert into PowerPoint would be perfectly composed.

However, in real life, many images could use some improvement. Especially if you’re inserting some pictures that you took yourself.

Often, thoughtful cropping can make the difference between a MEDIOCRE image and a REALLY GOOD IMAGE.

Furthermore, cropping your pictures the RIGHT WAY can sometimes lead to a stronger emotional connection with your audience.

Today, we’ll take a look at the different types of crops you can do. This way you will know what type of crop you need when manipulating images to work with your PowerPoint canvas size and text.

Cropping Images for PowerPoint Presentations

When it comes to inserting images into your PowerPoint Presentations there are a few important things you need to consider.

First off, we all know that there is limited canvas space (4:3 format in most cases) for each PowerPoint slide. Therefore, you have to crop your images to fit within this slide size.

Along with that, you also need to think about any text or other elements that needs to be added to the slide.  These elements need room to breathe so you have to factor in plenty of whitespace with the images that you are inserting.

Cropping Basics

Cropping refers to taking an image shot from your camera and later using a photo editor to alter the composition, change the orientation, or shift the visual emphasis of your shot.

Although there are common sophisticated image editors such as Aperture, Lightroom, and Photoshop, the crop tool remains one of the most effective ways to edit or enhance a photo. It’s quick and simple, but keep in mind that a poor crop or no crop at all can RUIN a picture.

In contrast, a good crop can turn a photo into the perfect photo.

There are many reasons to crop an image. One reason is to fit an image to fill a certain part of the slide or the entire slide.

Another reason is to remove a portion of the background to emphasize the subject. Other reasons include: to correct a focusing mistake, remove irrelevant detail, alter the original emphasis, or simply to present the scene in a different way.

The beauty about cropping is its simplicity. Often time when we shoot photos, we don’t have time to think about how we’re composing the shots we take. Other times we forget about composition because we’re so focused on trying to capture the moment.  However, you don’t have to make cropping a drastic change. Use cropping to eliminate distractions near the edge of the frame. Remember, an overly busy scene can be distracting and frustrating.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is one of the most basic composition guidelines in photography. The rule of thirds makes use of a natural tendency of the human eye to be more strongly drawn towards certain parts of an image.

As the name suggests, the idea behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts (as seen in the image below).

presentation tips - how to crop powerpoint images like a pro

The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally. Research has shown that when viewing images that people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot – using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.

Positioning critical photographic elements at the left, right, top, or bottom of the grid—instead of smack in the middle of the frame—naturally adds visual interest to the composition.

As you can see in the image below, cropping the tree (the main point of interest) to be right in the center of the frame could have resulted in an ‘awkward’ looking slide.

Remember, in learning how to use the rule of thirds (and then to break it) the most important questions to be asking of yourself are:

What are the points of interest in this shot?

Where am I intentionally placing them?


Did you know that linear elements, such as roads, waterways, and fences placed diagonally, are generally perceived as more dynamic than horizontally placed ones?

Diagonal compositions add a sense of action to your image and a dynamic look and feel. Diagonal compositions also help to lead the eye to your image’s main subject.

With a diagonal crop one side of the picture is divided into two, and then each half is divided into three parts. The adjacent side is divided so that the lines connecting the resulting points form a diagonal frame. According to the Diagonal Rule, important elements of the picture should be placed along these diagonals:

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Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle crop is another photographic composition rule to be aware of.  This compositional tool offers another way to highlight the most important part of the image. This composition is composed when there’s a triangle where two of the sides are of an equal length, and the third side and smaller side is in a Golden Ratio with it’s adjacent sides. The Golden Triangle rule is the most helpful if you have an image with a lot of diagonal lines in it.

Golden Ratio

Another rule of composition is the Golden Ratio, also known as the Divine Proportion or Phi. The Rule of Thirds and the Golden Ratio can be confusing because they look so similar and both are rectangular grids. The difference is that the Golden Ratio is 1:1.618. Since the Renaissance, artists and architects have designed their work to approximate this ratio.

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This type of composition is considered somewhat advanced and can be confusing to a lot of people. However, when applied to photography, this ratio can produce compositions that are very aesthetically pleasing.  Keep in mind that placement of the subject follows similar principles as the Rule of Thirds with dominant detail intersecting with the grid. Although this powerful composition tool is similar to the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Ratio offers a different take on cropping.

To get a clearer sense of these special “Golden” composition points, imagine a picture divided into nine unequal parts with four lines. Each line is drawn so that the width of the resulting small part of the image relates to that of the big part exactly as the width of the whole image relates to the width of the big part. Points where the lines intersect are the “golden” points of the picture.

Golden Spiral

Another compositional tool is the Golden Spiral. The Golden Spiral is a mathematical construct that leads the eye to the center of the composition or to a particular point in the image. The Golden Spiral can help create a good crop by emphasizing the most important part of the image. It’s most useful when you have objects that have curving lines. Here’s an example of the Golden Spiral in photo composition:

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Other PowerPoint Photo Cropping Tips to Consider

Remember, the key to cropping is to determine what aspects of your image are the most important to help you tell your story. Great photographs don’t just happen. Instead, it takes the use of various editing tools, such as the cropping tool to achieve a desired effect and perfect photo. Keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to crop a photo.

I recommend you explore the auto crop feature in various image editing programs, which will give you a quick enhancement or different perspectives that can boost your imagination.

Using these cropping techniques and compositional tools will help you achieve compelling and aesthetically pleasing compositions.

Lastly, always be sure to save an original version of your photo and work on the copy no matter what app or image editor you use to crop your images.


After reading this article, do you think you will try incorporating some of these cropping techniques into your PowerPoint presentations? Let me know what you think below and please try to be specific as possible.

Also, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these tips? If so, email them the link to this post now.

Thanks for sharing and be sure to post this article on Twitter of Facebook as well (using the sharing buttons to the left).

Image credits:

Cover Image by Artwetzel

Image #1 by Duncan (image remixed by Adam Noar)

Image #2 by Bluenose Canoehead (image remixed by Adam Noar)

Image #3 by SteveCadman (image remixed by Adam Noar)

Image #4 by Psyoletic

Image #5 by Fathzer (image remixed by Adam Noar)

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How Tim Ferriss Structures His PowerPoint Presentations (And Five Other Useful Public Speaking Tips)

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Do you ever struggle with organizing your PowerPoint presentations, or get intimidated by public speaking?

If you answered YES to either of those questions make sure you read this entire article.

In this post I’m going to showcase how serial entrepreneur Tim Ferris prepares for his public speaking events using his EXTREMELY SIMPLE presentation structure.


10 Presentation Tips To Improve Your Credibility (And Close The Deal)

10 Presentation Tips For Enhancing Credibility

There are often times when you need to give a presentation to an audience whom you have never met before.

Perhaps it’s an important sales pitch to a potential client? Or maybe it’s to a group of investors that are looking to hear more about your next great business idea.

In these situations you need to establish credibility in order to let your audience know that you are the REAL DEAL.