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How To Harness The Power Of Three In Your Presentations

by Adam Noar

PowerPoint Tips - Why Three Is Your New Favorite Number

Have you ever worked on a PowerPoint presentation and felt like you just couldn’t get the right look? Well, sometimes all you need is a bit of help from one magic number… THREE!

The number three can dramatically improve the look of your PowerPoint slide design, and provide some simple guidelines to get the design ideas flowing. Presenting in sets of three can make your PowerPoint presentations more enjoyable, interesting, and memorable.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can leverage the number three in your next PowerPoint presentation

1. Use Three Font Sizes

A simple and helpful technique is to use three different font sizes. Always make sure your heading, or the text you want to bring attention to most, is the biggest. This is important because the eye is naturally drawn to large elements first.

PowerPoint Tips - Use Three Fonts

2. Choose Three Colors

Choosing a color palette of three colors is another way to incorporate the number three. A three palette color combination will create variation and visual appeal to a slide.

You can actually create a really nice color palette based off a favorite image that you would like to use in your presentation.

To create the palette, an easy way to start is to choose one of the darkest hues as your first color. Depending on the mood or theme of your design, choose two additional complimentary colors. Below is an example of a color palette that complements the colors of the original image.

When you are working with color, be sure to apply the 60-30-10 rule. This rule refers to avoiding the use of equal amounts of the three colors to achieve good results. The rule is to divide colors into percentages of 60, 30, and 10. The primary color should cover about 60% of the space to create the overall unifying theme of the slide. 30% should be covered by the secondary color to create contrast and visual interest. Finally, the accent color should cover about 10% of the space to provide a final touch to your slide design.

Presentation Tips - PowerPoint Tips - Use Three Colors

3. Make Three Key Points

Another simple technique for harnessing the “power of three” is to make three key points on each slide or build your entire presentation around three key themes. People tend to only remember three things. Therefore, if you want your information to stick, choose three main points to that you want to get across and then design accordingly (as seen in the image below).

Presentation Tips - PowerPoint Tips - Make Three Points

4. Combine Three Elements

If you’re stuck for design ideas, try creating a layout using three elements. Limiting your image to three main elements will help you achieve a clean and professional look.

For example, in the slide below there are three elements:

Element #1: A background image of a forest

Element #2: Some text “Campfire Stories”

Element #3: An icon of a campfire

The combination of these three elements makes the slide stand out.

PowerPoint Tips - Presentation Tips - Use Three Elements

5. Use a Grid to Place Three Images

If you have a bunch of images that you want to show, you can create a grid made up of three sections to present them in a nice clean format. The nice thing about grids is that they give the impression of a visual narrative (like the one seen below).

You can arrange the grid however you like. Just keep in mind that the most important image should be placed within the biggest area.

PowerPoint Tips - Presentation Tips - Use A Three Grid Layout

6. Use the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is one of the most basic composition guidelines in photography. The idea behind the rule of thirds is to break an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts (as seen in the image below).

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 to interact more with it more naturally. 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.

Now, don’t take this rule too seriously. The rule of three is a guideline that can be bent. Essentially, the main takeaway is that an odd-number of items is more interesting than an even-number of items. You can achieve the same visual interest by arranging 5 items or 9 items into a grouping. So, don’t be scared to mix it up and have fun doing it.

PowerPoint Tips - Presentation Tips - Use The Rule Of Thirds


I hope you found these presentation tips useful!

The point of this post is not to make you feel as though you should always incorporate the rule of three, but rather to inspire you to use the rule of three to make your slides stand out.

When you fully understand the concept of using “three” you’ll start thinking about proportions differently and more carefully consider the way you distribute items in your presentations.

My question for you…

Now that you know about the power of presenting in a set of three, will you use any of the presentation tips mentioned above to improve your next presentation?

This presentation is also on SlideShare!


Image Credits

Three Ducks (remixed by Adam Noar) / Aaron Escobar

Three Sisters (remixed by Adam Noar) / Jeeves Miguel

Piggy In The Middle (remixed by Adam Noar) / Holly Occhipinti

The Snow Mountain Which Burns (remixed by Adam Noar) / T hino

Style (remixed by Adam Noar) / Beverley Goodwin

_MG_8025 (remixed by Adam Noar) / Babbagecabbage

Deeper Roots (remixed by Adam Noar) / 5chw4r7z

Gaviotas de Alta Sociedad (remixed by Adam Noar) / Jonathan Pincas

花瓶頂 (remixed by Adam Noar) / Kevin Law

Jacobi Falls Trail (remixed by Adam Noar) / Nicholas A. Tonelli

Ladybower Woods (remixed by Adam Noar) / Dan Cook

Noun Project / Camera Stand (remixed by Adam Noar) / Phu Tran

Noun Project / Sun / Dmitry Baranovskiy

Noun Project / Hand Framing / MoRiza

Noun project / Twitter (remixed by Adam Noar) / Maria Maldonado

Noun Project / Heart / Laurent Canivet

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