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And now, I'd like to introduce …

Every so often it is appropriate to introduce members of a team, faculty, winners of awards, etc., in presentations. So you contact those people and ask them to send photographs of themselves to you.

Each photograph is generally just fine if used individually, but all of them together as a grouping are a little bit of a nightmare. Some serious scaling and cropping needs to happen.

Creating consistent and complementary
headshots in PowerPoint

There are a few steps that can be taken to wrangle photographs into a "set."

  1. Scale all the photographs so that the subjects' heads are roughly the same size
  2. Crop all the photographs so that they are exactly the same size
  3. Adjust brightness/contrast so that the color values are the same for all photographs
  4. If one is grayscale, make them all grayscale
  5. Create a presentation design device to "bind"

Scale all Photographs

Scale each photograph (hold shift key down as you resize) so that the heads and shoulders of each of the subjects are roughly the same size. Don't worry that the photographs themselves are wildly different sizes at this point. Just get the heads so they look the like a set. If a very large man and a small child are in the set, make allowances for these differences and make the child's head smaller than the man's head.

Crop all Photographs

Draw a rectangle (or other shape) that will be the size of each of the photographs. Usually you go to the most restrictive photograph – the one that can be sized and cropped the least – and draw your shape so that this photograph can fit it nicely. Then use this drawn rectangle to guide your cropping. Overlay the rectangle onto each photograph and crop the edges of the photograph so that they match the edges of the drawn rectangle. When this is done, your photographs should all be cropped and sized consistently.

Adjust Brightness and Contrast

Sometimes photographs come in darker or lighter than you'd like. PowerPoint has a feature that can lighten or darken a photograph and also create more or less contrast. Make these adjustments so that the photographs appear to be as consistently colored as possible.

Select a Mode

There are two considerations when selecting a mode.

  1. What is the mode of the other photographs in the presentation? If all of the photographs in the presentation are a tinted grayscale, then the photos on the introductory slide should be a tinted grayscale (PowerPoint 2007 users only). If they are all color, then the photos on the introductory slide should also be color.
  2. If all of the photographs are received in color except one (which comes in as grayscale), you should probably opt to make all of the photographs grayscale. Remember, you're trying to create a unified set of photographs.

Create a Design Device

Use a design device that appears in your presentation to "bind" the photographs together as a set and also bind it to the rest of the presentation. If you don't have a design device, create a simple one.

This simple design device unifies the set of photographs. You can leave space for names, titles, and companies if you wish. You can also use animation to highlight each person as you introduce them.

Additional Formatting Possibilities

When you start with decent quality photos, the tools within PowerPoint should be up to the task of formatting your photographs to a consistent look. If, however, you are proficient at using Photoshop or other image-editing software, you can make even more formatting changes/additions that will bind the photographs together as a set.

  • Knock out the background for a "free-floating" effect
  • Replace the background with something consistent between all photos
  • Smooth out rough spots in the photograph
  • Extra adjustment tools for finer adjustments to contrast, hue, saturation, color balance, and other aspects of your images
  • Cloning tools for replacing unwanted portions of a photograph with more desirable areas of the photograph

When you are finished with these additional steps, the photograph should be enhanced but not appear to be altered.

* * *

It is important to correctly develop these types of slides. Slapping a bunch of photographs on a page without trying to unify them may send a message that is counter to what you're trying to convey. A team is usually balanced and deliberately assembled. Approach the development of a team introductory slide in the same manner. The underlying visual message will be consistent with what you're verbally communicating.