Making Your (Power)Point: 8 Savvy Tricks For Better Quality Images

    By | Small Business

    Jamie Heckler and her dog Rufus are dressed up as the tortoise & the hare

    Presentations are part of the job for most communications professionals and PowerPoint is the common tool of choice. Generally, the slide show presentation program makes it pretty easy for you to incorporate and modify images, photos, graphs and video; however, there are some tricks to the trade for making your multimedia look even more amazing.

    Please note: Although there was some canine embarrassment, no dogs were harmed in the making of this blog post.

    TIP 1. Insert Images Instead Of Cut & Paste

    This one is a difficult, even for me. I love to cut and paste…it’s so fast and easy. My fingers can Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V faster than any gunman in the Wild West, but PowerPoint does not share my enthusiasm. Pasted photos will appear slightly blurry. In the example below, Rufus’s whiskers are much more detailed in the image that was inserted, versus his fuzzy beard in the pasted image.

    For best quality, use menu command Insert > Pictures.

    ppt_insertimg

    TIP 2. Maintain Image Dimensions Without Distortion

    The true aspect ratio of an image is compromised when the image is not resized properly. To keep your images looking their absolute best, be extra cautious to maintain the true aspect ratio. This is particularly important for maintaining the professional integrity of a brand’s logo.

    Rufus dressed as a turtle. Shows original true aspect ratio versus distorted images.

    • If you want to make your image smaller:
      • Hold down the Shift Key as you drag to resize corners of your image.
      • PSSST… there’s a faster, easier way: Hold down the Shift Key + Up/Down Arrow to quickly scale your image.
    • If you want to change the dimensions of your photo, for example if you wish to turn your rectangle image into a square, you should use the Crop tool. (See tip #5 below.)

    TIP 3. Avoid Blur – Don’t Enlarge Images

    Blurry photos are the result of trying to make a low resolution image larger. There simply aren’t enough pixels saved in the file memory to create a sharp image. When I enlarged this image of Rufus to double its original size, I embarrassed both him and myself. (He really hated that one.)

    Rufus dressed as a clown.

    The default resolution in PowerPoint is 96 dpi (dots/pixels per inch). This is slightly higher than the standard screen resolution of 72 dpi, but lower than high-def screens. My advice is to work with the highest resolution images available to you.

    • If you’re searching for images with Google, use the Search tools button to find Large images.
    • Clicking the image will show you the pixel size of the image.

    Google search using advanced search tools

    In Google’s Image tab, use the Search tools button to filter resulting images to your size needs.

    Google image search preview with dimension details

    When you preview the Google search image, you can see its pixel size.

    TIP 4. Take Faster Screenshots

    There are many different ways to take a screenshot, but I’ve found the quickest way in PowerPoint is to use the embedded tool.

    • Use Insert > Screenshot, to add an image of any windows currently open on your computer

    In a recent Beyond PR blog post,14 Design Tools for Bloggers,” my colleague Danielle Capriato recommends the Awesome Screenshot browser plugin for longer or more advanced screenshot capabilities.

    TIP 5. Focus On What Matters By Cropping Your Images

    Don’t overwhelm your audience with information. Crop larger infographics or screenshots to better fit the slide and highlight the area that best supports your message.

    Crop images to focus on what matters and better align to the space available.

    Crop larger or busy images to focus in on the area that matters most.

    • Select your image and use Format > Crop.
    • Drag the black bars around the edge of the picture to trim excess image area from view.
    • Click anywhere outside of the selected image to escape out of the crop tool. Be careful not to click on the greyed area of your original image…you might accidentally move the image. (This may or may not have happened to me on more than one occasion.)

    TIP 6. Remove The Automatic Image Compression

    While working on a recent presentation for a colleague, I noticed that when I re-opened my presentation the images looked pixelated. After double checking my resolution and file sizes, I figured this might be a known issue and turned to Google for some help.

    It turns out that the default setting in PowerPoint is to compress all your image files. For most files, this may not make a difference. However, if your images are detailed or include smaller text, then this may get you into some trouble.

    • To change this setting, go to File > Options.
    • In the pop-up panel, select Advanced from the left menu.
    • In the Image Size and Quality section, check the box that says “Do not compress images in file.”

    TIP 7. Customize Charts To Match Your Presentation Style

    Whether you’ve copied it from Excel or created it right in PowerPoint, never settle for PowerPoint’s default chart style. Spend a few minutes adjusting the colors and fonts to match the rest of your deck. Highlight areas of the chart that are most important using larger font sizes, different colors, or additional annotations.

    • Double-click on your chart to bring up the Format Panel on the right.
    • Select areas within the chart and then adjust colors/fonts/etc.

    Example of chart being formatted in PowerPoint

    The format panel gives you the ability to change virtually every aspect of your chart. For best results, match your chart to the style of your presentation.

    TIP 8. Set Playback Options For A Better Video Experience

    Once you’ve inserted a video from your computer or YouTube, you’ll want to adjust the playback options to your preferences:

    • Select the embedded video and go the Video Tools > Playback.
    • When do you want video to start? Select “On Click” or “Automatically.
    • Always check “Rewind after Playing” option to make sure your video starts at the very beginning every time you come to that slide.

    Highlighting video playback option area

    If you definitely want your audience to view the video, I recommend selecting “automatically” as the start option. If you think you might be short on time and could skip playing this video, go with “click to start” instead.

    Looking For More? For even more practical advice on creating stellar presentations, check out the other blog posts in Beyond PR’s “Making Your (Power)Point” series:

    This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Making Your (Power)Point: 8 Savvy Tricks For Better Quality Images

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