Thursday, January 29, 2009

Create better slides using "The Rule of Thirds"

One of the biggest issues I see with PowerPoint presentations is that many of the slides are crowded and out of balance. Often times images are even distorted to try to make enough room for the title and the five, full sentence bullet points that need to be squeezed onto the screen. The first improvement to be made is to reduce the amount of material on each slide. The second improvement to make is to learn to use "The Rule of Thirds" to balance the visuals (text and graphics) an the slide.

"The Rule of Thirds" and how to use it.
Graphic designers and photographers use "the rule of thirds" to create balance and focus attention. Basically, you divide the space (in this case your slide) into equal thirds horizontally and vertically. It's really like drawing a tic-tac-toe board on your slide. Then place the main elements of your image along the lines of the grid. 
Obviously you don't leave the grid on your slide it is just a visual reference, but the viewer's eye will naturally go to the area of the image where the lines intersect. These "hotspots" become the perfect place to place text or focus attention. Note the example of the family walking on the beach. Placing the main elements (the family) along the line on the right give the image a 
natural balance and creates interest. 

You have to be careful not to clutter up the open space with text, but you can strategically place text at a "hotspot" to give it attention but maintain balance in the slide. Note the placement of the text in the lightbulb image and well as where the lit bulb falls. The slide is balanced, easy to read and tells a story. That's what we are after.

Balancing text and images
There are times when you need enough space for more text. By the never need enough space for five, full sentence bullets, but you may have a passage of Scripture that you want to include on the slide for clarity sake. You can still use the rule of thirds to help. Note the slide with the image of Christ and the quote from Romans 5. It stays balanced because the image and the text are placed evenly on the grid set up by the rule of thirds.

Final thoughts
Using the rule of thirds can make an immediate improvement on your slides. If you strive to create balance and remove clutter and your slides will have more impact and communicate more clearly. Give the rule of thirds a try...once you do there is no going back.

No comments: