Tag Archives: design

Presentation Design: The Rule of Thirds

25 Jul

Have you heard of The Rule of Thirds?”

Unless you’re a designer, photographer or an artist, you probably don’t hear about it a lot.  It’s a standard in the design world, used by professionals in many fields in order to achieve harmonious, clear placement of a variety of design elements.  It’s a basic rule that, if followed correctly, greatly increases the value of images and text in any piece, (including a presentation) and the good news is that ANYONE can do it!

So, what is it?

Concerning presentations, The Rule of Thirds relies on the science of the human eye being attracted to certain “power points” (yes, this is just a strange coincidence) on the slides.  Below is a four-line, nine-square grid that is used as a guide for placing the various elements along lines and at points on the grid.

You can use the lines and points in a variety of ways.  For instance, you can place images or text along a vertical or horizontal line to showcase a very simplistic structure.  This option is best for basic imagery with little or no text.  In presentations, this style works very well for title slides, introductory slides or transitional slides.

You can also insert images or text directly on a power point to ensure that your audience’s eyes dart for the intended object or set of words.  This technique allows for an off-centered appealing style that places a huge amount of importance on the primary focal point.  Use this layout to make one very significant point to your audience.  This is meant to blatantly push your message out there, so choose your image wisely.

You can also insert text or images at a “common” point that intersects the vertical and horizontal lines in order to use multiple angles to declare your message.  This is a very useful way to combine words and pictures to fully illustrate a point while maintaining simplistic design.

Presentation guru and blogger Garr Reynolds weighs in on the issue on his blog, saying:

“The “rule of thirds” is a simplified version of the golden mean. The rule of thirds is a basic technique that photographers learn to frame their shots. Subjects placed exactly in the middle can often make for an uninteresting photo. The golden mean would be wonderful to apply when taking snaps, but obviously this is not practical. But a viewfinder can be divided by lines — real or just imagined — so that you have four intersecting lines or crossing points and 9 rectangles that resemble a tic-tac-toe board. These four crossing points (also called power points, if you can believe it) are areas you might place your main subject, rather than in the center.”

In order to properly obey The Rule of Thirds, you must first choose the right images to convey your message.  Then, you’ve got to determine the hierarchy of your images, meaning that you need to analyze the importance of the image as it concerns the entire piece.  Once you know what is most important to your central message, then you can designate where the element will be placed and how The Rule of Thirds can best bring out the meaning of each element. Now, all you’ve got to worry about is how the image will play along the power points and lines to be aesthetically pleasing.

So, what’s the best way to incorporate images into your presentation?

Well, there are 3 easy ways you can insert great graphics and text into your next presentation.

1. Find the image that already follows The Rule of Thirds

Most of the time, the image that you have in mind will not be your ideal choice for a design element due to size and quality restrictions. However, you may come across the correctly sized and positioned image, which makes the work that much easier.  As you go through images, just remember that the image must be cohesive with your message while resonating with your audience.  Always keep the feel and flow of your presentation in mind as you go through image selection.

2. Crop or scale the image to follow The Rule of Thirds

Whenever you come across the image that has your subject matter within its frame, but does not fit as a whole into your presentation, you will have to manipulate the image to fit into the frame of your presentation.  You can easily adjust almost any image to fulfill The Rule of Thirds unless the content of the image is too busy, resulting in a condensed, unusable version of the subject matter.  A simple image is a very versatile element that can be used as a supplement to your speech.  Use a striking or drastic image that works as a symbol to your message in order to make your words stronger.

3. Combine images and text so that one or both follow The Rule of Thirds

Using a combination of images and text allows for a flow of information and visuals to simultaneously enrich the slide.  You can place a set of words along a horizontal line, a single important word on a power point, or even the focal point of an image at a power point with accompanying text along an intersecting line.  There are tons of different directions you could possibly go, but just remember that the placement of images and text in The Rule of Thirds says a lot about your message.  In the end, it’s all about connecting with your audience.

So, there you have it.  This is an introductory explanation of The Rule of Thirds.  It is a very powerful tool that anyone can follow in order to provide an aesthetically pleasing slide while effectively showcasing and explaining your message.  Don’t hesitate to experiment, to try different images with bold text in new, exciting ways.  Always, always remember that your presentation needs to be an experience for your audience, not just a display of information and pictures.  Make them excited for the next slide.  Be wacky and crazy at times.  Be a riveting entertainer. Be bold!

What do you think?  Do you need any help following The Rule of Thirds?  We’re ALWAYS here to give you any tips or instructions whenever you need us!  If you’d like to see some of our work, contact our CEO at kenny@bigfishpresentations.com or view our YouTube channel.  Also, check out our Facebook page, tweet us or leave some comments below!



Download our latest white-paper – Seven Ways to Rock Your Next Presentation

15 Jul

Kenny here. Today, I’d like to give our loyal blog followers, a nice little present from the Big Fish Presentations team.

You can now download our newest white-paper Seven Ways to Rock Your Next Presentation by clicking on the picture above or clicking the link here. It’s our first white-paper, and I personally am rather proud of it. But that doesn’t mean you should hold back on your thoughts. Feel free to leave us any comments, thoughts and opinions, as we’ll be looking to update this whitepaper within the next couple of months.

If you’re new to our blog, feel free to subscribe in the right hand side and get dibs on the latest presentation news and offerings from our team at Big Fish.

Happy presenting!

– Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

Presentation Styles: Old School vs. New School

21 Jun

It’s an age-old argument.  Whether it’s music, fashion or lifestyle, people are constantly debating the pros and cons of old vs. new.  Do fundamentals outweigh breakthroughs?  Is a fresh approach more effective than maintaining tradition?

These questions are often very difficult to answer.  However, they are worth exploring.

At Big Fish, we frequently ponder this issue when it comes to giving and designing presentations.  There are many different approaches to presenting, all of which can be very effective when executed properly.

For example, when presenting to a small audience it can be very beneficial to the speaker to go more old school.  Talk to your audience as if they are actually people.  A tech-show to 5-10 people feels impersonal and can seem like overkill.  Forget the fancy motion graphics and charts if you are covering internal information.  Flashy doesn’t impress everyone, especially if they are your co-workers.

On the other hand, if you’re presenting to a larger crowd, technology can play to your strengths.  Since you can’t fully engage everyone in such a massive group, using a digital setup is great for keeping your audience on their toes and entertained.

What about design?

A simplistic design (old school) is nice in almost every single situation.  Our job is to simplify content and break it down so that it is easily digestible for your audience.  A blur of color, sound and information loses retention with your audience.  Make sure to include all of the information, whether on the slide or in your own words, but don’t overload them.

A new school approach to design is to be loud and attention-grabbing.  This approach is effective if the tone of the content is in sync with your design.  For example, if you are presenting about next quarter’s projections, you probably shouldn’t use funky fonts and grainy textures.  You should keep it elegant and clean, just like the information.  However, if you are giving a presentation about a rock band, the flavor of the design should be that of the style – spunky, fun and entertaining.

There are always exceptions to these insights.  Don’t be afraid to try something new or out of the ordinary.  The only thing you have to remember is your target audience.  What would they respond to the best?  What are they looking for? Craft your presentation to their perspectives and then WOW them with your mad presentation skills!

Which style do you think is most effective at which times?  What is your favorite style?

Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page or by tweeting us! Also, check out our YouTube page and subscribe for our latest and greatest videos and projects!

Kenny Nguyen: Simplistic Design + Passion in Presentations

2 May

Here’s a clip of our CEO/Founder being brave and presenting to a crowd how to deliver a presentation on presentations…without a presentation.  Darn technical mishaps. In the clip below, Kenny speaks about simplistic design, passion, and his story of entrepreneurship.  Check it out:

Note to self…always have a backup plan as the show must go on.

5 Valuable and Highly Effective Prezi Tips

9 Feb

There’s a shift occurring in the presentation world.

It’s been happening slowly, but is picking up pace as people are beginning to “get” how important presentations really are to your business, organization or brand.

As this shift takes place, new tools have emerged to facilitate growth in the presentation industry.

One of these tools is Prezi.

Prezi has emerged as an excellent tool in presentations because it makes them fun and engaging.  At Big Fish Presentations, Prezi is one of our requested creation tools, and it has had a tremendous impact on the way we think about and create presentations.

Over time, through many projects and countless discussions, we have learned a few things about how to improve your experience with Prezi.

Here are a few tips to help you out in your next presentation.

1. Utilize Perspective

Unlike Powerpoint, Prezi is a very diverse in its movement and transitions.  Instead of keeping your audience in a tiny box, Prezi literally has the capability to take viewers outside that box and take them on a ride.

If used correctly, Prezi can be an adventure, an exciting display of color and designs that your audience will truly enjoy.  We use perspective in our Presenting An Experience” presentation by zooming in and around the screen.  Notice how the perspective changes dramatically at times.  This gives depth to your presentation and allows your audience to enjoy the content instead of simply watching bullet points fade in and out.

(Note: Don’t be too crazy with the zooming and speed.   See tip number 3.)

2. More graphics than words

A picture is worth a thousand words.  This is a cliché, of course, but it absolutely applies in Prezi.  An image can tell a story in many different ways than a group of words can. Slim down your content and enrich the meaning with a visual treat for the audience.

Create a centralized image that sets up a theme.  Your audience will be more likely to look back on your presentation and recall that image.  They will remember your story. In our presentation for Celtic Media Centre, we used the image of the projector screen to tie the whole theme of film together.  The audience didn’t just see a set of points.  There was character attached to the content, which is always more memorable and effective.

3. Control your movement

Use control in your zooming and flying around.  No one wants to be taken for a ride so crazy that they have no idea what the points presented even meant.  Find a balance of exciting movement and steady pace.  Make sure that every time there’s a dramatic flip, there’s a reason for it.

Keep your movements simple and fun, not wildly experimental and nauseating.  An example of a Prezi that uses a measured pace and dynamic movement is our Raising Cane’s presentation.  Do you see and feel the rhythm we created?  Keeping it light and wispy, but meaningful and rhythmic is crucial in keeping your audience’s attention while you make your points.

4. Incorporate outside programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.)

Don’t limit yourself.  A Prezi made with only the tools provided within the program can often result in a bland, run-of-the-mill experience for your viewers.  Incorporate things that can’t be done in Prezi to enrich the experience.  Your audience deserves it.


Use creative programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for rich graphics and professional quality design.  For a video, use iMovie, FinalCut, or Adobe Premiere to give your audience the experience that best displays your brand, organization, company, etc.  We incorporated video in our work for New Orleans Entreprenur Week , and it worked very well to diversify the presentation.  Our audience was able to sit back and enjoy a video for a few minutes before moving on to the next point.  High-quality design and video heightens aesthetics and boosts your audience’s morale.

5. Choose a color scheme and be consistent

Prezi is very user-friendly, but this can be a bad thing.  Oftentimes, people with little or no design experience create presentations that incorporate mismatched and, sometimes downright ugly, color schemes.  It’s imperative that you not only choose a color scheme, but that you stick with it and maintain a consistent theme throughout your presentation.

Choosing the color scheme can be difficult if you aren’t sure which colors work well together to convey certain points.  However, there are loads of sites to help with color choice.  Our team of designers chooses color carefully and works with our copywriting team to produce the most appropriate and effective combination.  See our Blue Cross Blue Shield presentation for an example of a consistent color scheme.


These are simply tips, not commandments.  Feel free to do with them what you’d like.  We have found that they work for us, and our customers have come back for more because we integrated these techniques into our work.

So, what do you think?

Were these helpful?

We hope so.  If you’d like more tips for Prezi or general advice, please leave us some questions below, tweet us, or post on our Facebook!

Happy presenting!

-Big Fish Presentations