Mar 29, 2010

4 Tips to make the most of Google Image Search

When it comes to using images for presentations, Google is the first choice for most of us. The sheer variety of images one gets is wonderful. However you should not forget to check the copyright status of the image you are downloading. I had referred to this in my last post as well.

In this post we shall discover tips on how to use Google Images better.
Show Options to Filter Your Search

Google gives you a great option to filter your search. Click on the 'Show Options' button on the top and you will discover wonderful options to make your search faster, better and more relevant.

Let us take an example to understand what we can accomplish with 'Show Options'. Say you are searching for images related to 'money'. With Show Options you can do the following:

1. Search by (image) size
2. Search by type
3. Search by colour

1. Search by size
Low resolution images are not good for presentations. While downloading presentations you need to check the resolution of the image. Low resolution images looks blurred when stretched on the slide. Try to use images with a resolution of more than 600 x 800.

The best way of ensuring you get high resolution images is to click on 'Large'. If you are not satisfied with the available images you can always go to 'Medium' later on.

Another excellent option here is the 'Icon'. An Icon as the name suggests are icons / symbols which advertisements and websites use. They look cool and if you are looking for icons instead of images, this one's for you.
2. Search by type

This is another excellent feature by Google. There are four options under type; Face, Photo, Clip art & Line Drawing. Depending on your slide layout you might be looking for an image of a person. In which case you should click on face. If you are looking for a Clip Art, you select this option. Google thus gives you immense options to make your search better and ofcourse faster.

3. Search by colour

Your presentation has a Black & White theme or you have a black slide and you want to avoid using colour images. In this case, you can click on 'Black and White' option under colour and only such images will be displayed. I feel this is a brilliant option which you should use and get the maximum out of. You can also choose a specific colour and search for images which are in that colour (see the image below where I have searched money in orange/golden colour). Read more on colours here: 5 Tips to use Colours in presentations [Design secret #1].

For example your slide colour is white and you want an image which merges with the slide. In which case you can click on 'White' and choose a good looking image.

4. Aspect Ratio under Advanced Search

There is one more great feature which is not known by most people. This is not under 'Show Options' but it is under 'Advanced Search'.

If your slide is designed such that a picture with vertical orientation will look better then you can filter the search by choosing 'tall' under 'Advanced Search Aspect Ratio'. If you are looking for a wider image, choose 'wide'. This feature can really help you save a lot of time searching for the right image.

The next time you go to Google to search for an image explore the various options which Google has given you. Happy Googling!

Mar 27, 2010

Download Free Images for Presentations

What do you do when you need images for your presentation?

You rush to Google Images, type in the keyword and download the image. What is wrong with this method is that you really do not check the copyright status of the image. You might end up using an image you are not authorised to. In case it is an internal presentation in your company or campus you can be safe but if you upload the presentation online you can really get into some trouble.

With the increasing use of images in presentations, one needs to have a few websites to fall back on when in need of images. These links will work as an image bank where you can access free images of good quality without worrying about copyright violations.

The websites I am talking about are the following:

1. Free Digital Photos
2. Free Range Stock
3. Flickr

Free Digital Photos asks for an acknowledgment (link back to the photographer's profile page) when you use their images. Free Range Stock does not even ask that while Flickr does ask for acknowledgment. As a matter of practice, you should always check the terms of use before downloading images (as the terms might change from time to time).

Mar 22, 2010

TED Talks: 8 Secrets of Success in just 3 minutes

I came across this excellent 3 minute TED talk when I attended TEDxHi-TechCity in January 2010. It was played there in one of the short breaks. In this short presentation Richard St. John shares his insights collected over a long time. The presentation is crisp, full of humor, has sensible visuals and great content. A must watch for all.

The two things I really liked about this presentation are:

1. Visual Slide Design

The slide design is really nice. When you are presenting in just 3 minutes you cannot have much text for audience to read on the slide. Hence Richard has the main point in bold (red font) with an image which quickly helps us visualise the spirit of the point. For love he has a red heart, for money a bag full of cash with a $ sign on it.

Then there is a small quote below in BIG fonts. He reads this quote from the slide (which is a bad thing normally). This however was needed because it would have been tough for Richard to memorize so many quotes.

2. Humor

When he talks about Push and shows a vehicle with Mom written over it, that really make people laugh. Another instance when he expands the abbreviation CRAP as Criticism, Rejection, Assholes & Pressure. These are not improvisations on the spurt of the moment. Richard's humor is planned. Humor in your presentation has to be planned and executed well.

The only thing that was a bit weird was that Richard did not use a wireless presenter to deliver the presentation even more smoothly. It forces him to look at his laptop and change slides every now and then.

Mar 19, 2010

What % of Indians are B+? ( Two Solutions)

On March 13 I had posed a question. I shared with you data on what % of people fall into which blood group in India, US, UK and South Africa. Here is the data:

In this post, we shall look at how to visualize this data to get the maximum information. A regular reader of this blog
Riz Mathani commented on the last post with this option. His solution is simple:

Go to MS PowerPoint -> Insert Chart -> Choose 100% Stacked Column Chart (also called the Stacked Bar Chart). Use this type of chart when breaking down data into parts and comparing the parts. In our table, we are breaking down blood groups into 8 parts and then comparing them.

This is how the chart will look like:
This I feel is the simplest way (and often the best way) to show such a piece of data. Some quick conclusions we can make from this chart are:

1. O+ is the most common blood group across all countries
2. A+ is relatively less common in India when compared to other countries
3. India is the only country with a very high B+ percentage
4. O+, A+ and B+ together form the most common blood groups in these countries.

There is however another way this data can be looked at. You must try using this chart and if you feel comfortable using it. I am talking about a Radar Chart.

Insert Chart -> Radar -> Radar (without markers). Here is the output:

To change the view select the chart -> Under Chart Tools -> Design Tab -> Switch Row/Column (in MS PowerPoint 2007). This is the final result:

This data clearly shows that O+ is the most common blood group followed by A+. B+ is very high in India and relatively low in other countries. Radar chart is very good at showing aberrations/outliers (like the B+ in India's case). If values are very similar to each other, avoid Radar Charts.

These were two solutions to this problem; one from Riz and I from me. Do you have any other way of visualising this data?

Mar 15, 2010

5 Steps Towards Becoming a Better Presenter

As you are aware I am writing articles for a website You can check out my latest article on '5 steps towards becoming a better presenter' by clicking here. Here I am talking about the following 5 steps:

Step 1: Become better at MS PowerPoint

Step 2: Know what MS PowerPoint cannot do
Step 3: Get serious about your presentation
Step 4: Practice. Practice. Practice.
Step 5: Seek regular feedback

These tips are not very radical (except the last point which I strongly advocate) but as they say, "God lies in execution".

Mar 13, 2010

What percentage of Indians are B+? (Can you visualise this?)

A colleague at my office was compiling our blood group data for HR purposes. This led my team to stumble upon an interesting piece of data on Wikipedia.

Do you know what percentage of people in the world belong to which blood group? We figured out that O+ is the most popular blood group in India (and in most other countries). One out of every 3 Indian is O+ and so is 4 out of every 10 US citizen. Only 8.5% of US citizens were B+ whereas a whopping 30.9% of Indians were B+.
Here is a sample data I picked from Wikipedia. (These numbers are percentages which add upto 100. So 36.5% Indians are O+ and 22.1% are A+)
How would you visualise this data? If you have to present this data how will you do that in a manner which provides most meaningful information?

Mar 9, 2010

My article on LiveMint

Dear readers

I recently wrote an article for the popular Indian business newspaper LiveMint. You can click here to read the article. It is called '5 ways to make your (power) point. It contains 5 simple tips on how to use PowerPoint
more effectively in order to make better presentations. Your comments are welcome on the LiveMint website or on this blog.

Mar 5, 2010

How I reduced the file size of an image by 94%?

Yesterday a colleague of mine came to me with a problem. He had an image (a photo taken from a digital camera) which was 3.52 MB in size. He wanted to make it under 1 MB because he had to email the images to a senior colleague.

I used an old trick which I have always found useful. If you want to email images or use it in presentations, you can easily reduce the image size by using this trick. It goes like this.

Step-1 Open the folder where the image is stored. Right click on the image file, choose 'Open with Microsoft Office Picture Manager'. This software comes free with MS Office.

Step-2 On the Formatting tool bar above, click on Edit Pictures.

Step-3 Under 'Change picture size', click on Resize.

Step-4 Under 'Size setting summary' you can see the original size (in pixels) of the image. Now type a number in 'Percentage of original width x height'. Press OK.

My colleague entered 20, and the software reduced the image pixels to 20% of the original dimension (example from 1000 pixels width to 200 pixels in width). Using this method, we were able to reduce the file size of the image to 212 KB (a reduction of 94%). From 3.52 MB to 212 KB in 5 seconds!

And this reduction in file size did not affect the picture quality much. If you have very high resolution images, a reduction of 50% to 60% will make the file less bulky and easy to email. Even if you use it in your presentations, the image quality will not suffer.

As I understand, this is just one way of reducing the file size of an image. Do you know of any more ways? If you do, please share it with all of us here.Thank you.

Mar 3, 2010

How to password protect your presentation?

Case #1 You have a confidential presentation on your desktop and you don't want anyone else to see that presentation. How do you password protect your presentation such that no one else can open the presentation? Only people who know the password can open the presentation.

Case #2 You are a sales manager and you are sending a presentation to a client. You want the presentation to be 'read only', which means that the recipient can only view the presentation but not modify it. How do you do that?

We will first figure out how to address Case #1.

Password Protect the Presentation File in MS PowerPoint 2007

Click on the Office Button -> Go to 'Prepare' -> Encrypt Document. After you click on it, you can enter the password and press ok. Then you will be asked to re-type the password.

Whenever, someone tries to open the presentation, he/she will be asked to enter the password as well. Once they enter the correct password, they are allowed to open and edit the presentation (which includes changing the password or removing the password).

To remove the password, you can go to Encrypt Document and delete the password and press ok.

Make a Presentation Read-Only in MS PowerPoint 2007

Click on the Office Button -> Save As -> Tools -> General Options. To make the presentation read-only, enter the password ONLY in the first box which reads 'Password to open'.

If you send this presentation to someone, they will be asked to enter the password, to open and view the presentation. On entering the correct password they will be allowed to view the presentation but they will not be allowed to modify anything.

If you wish to have another password which allows people to modify the presentation, then also enter a password in the second box which reads 'Password to modify'. If you do not wish to create this password, leave the space blank.

Think of situations when you need to password protect your presentation? How have you been protecting your presentations in the past?

Mar 2, 2010

Best of the Month: Feb '10

February has been a hectic month for me professionally. That's why the month saw a lower number of posts. I got to attend my first TEDx in Hyderabad on January 31 and I shared my learnings from the various speakers in my Feb 10th post. This post was also the most read post of the month. This month saw two guest posts, highest for the blog till date. This post by a trainer Joel Xavier is worth reading. He shares his experience of conducting a 3 day training session. At the end the month, I shared an interesting tip on how to create a presentation which runs in a continuous loop. Check it out here.