How to change the axis of rotation (sort of) for a shape in PowerPoint


When a shape doesn’t spin in a circular motion as expected in Microsoft PowerPoint, consider where the shape’s axis of rotation is. You might need to force a new one.

Illustration: Lisa Hornung, Getty Images/iStockPhoto

It’s easy to make shapes spin in Microsoft PowerPoint; simply apply the Spin animation. However, achieving the right spin within the right area isn’t always that simple. Sometimes you need to force the axis of rotation to recognize a different area—you can’t really do that, but there is a workaround that does this trick. In this article, I’ll show you how to do so by forcing a triangle to span the entire circumference of a circle, similar to the hands of a clock, instead of spinning in only one half of the circle.

SEE: Office 365: A guide for tech and business leaders (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

This article assumes you have basic PowerPoint skills, such as inserting shapes and applying properties. For your convenience, you can download the demonstration .pptx file. You can apply this workaround in the browser edition.

What is axis of rotation?

Merriam Webster defines axis of rotation as follows: The straight line through all fixed points of a rotating rigid body around which all other points of the body move in circles.

A great example of this concept is a compass dial. Its axis of rotation is the center of the dial. The dial circles around the circumference as expected because the axis of rotation is the center of the dial, which is also the center of the circle. This concept might be better explained with a visual.

How to create a spinning arrow

A center axis of rotation is inherent in some shapes, such as lines. When you can use one of these shapes, do so, because what you need is already there. For example, let’s add a double-arrow shape and apply a spin animation to create a simple spinning arrow:

  1. Click the Insert tab, click Shapes in the Illustrations group, and choose the left to right double-arrow shape in the Block Arrows section. Position and size the inserted arrow (Figure A).
  2. Click the Animations tab.
  3. From the Emphasis section, choose Spin. PowerPoint will give you a quick preview.

Figure A

  Add a double-arrow shape.

A figure can’t show you the full spin, but the arrow spins from the center—its axis of rotation is in the center of the arrow. (Figure B).

Figure B

  The arrow spins around the center.

Play around with a few different shapes and you’ll see that many shapes spin as expected, whereas others don’t. For instance, try a square and a triangle, and you’ll find that the triangle spins, but the axis of rotation might not be where you expect!

Creating a false axis of rotation

It would be great if every shape spun as expected, but because of the axis of rotation, some will surprise you. We can illustrate this by trying to create a clock dial. The double-arrow will spin correctly, but it’s a double-arrow, not a traditional one-arrow dial.

To get the results you want, you might use a long, narrow triangle, as shown in Figure C. But the lone triangle won’t spin as expected. Instead of spinning around the circle, which is what you want, it spins in the top half only (see Figure D). That’s because it exists only in the top half. It’s spinning correctly, but it’s not what you want.

Figure C

  Insert a long, narrow triangle.

Figure D

  The triangle spins only in the top half of the circle.

The obvious solution is to change the axis of rotation to the bottom of the triangle. There’s no way to do that, but there is a workaround. In a nutshell, copy the triangle and rotate it, lining it up with the bottom to create a double-arrow dial, then set the new triangle’s fill property to nothing. Finally, you group the two shapes and in doing so, you change the axis of rotation from the center of the lone triangle to the point where the two arrows meet.

Let’s work through an example using the triangle in Figure C (in the downloadable demonstration file):

  1. After positioning and sizing the narrow triangle, select it, press Ctrl+B and drag a copy to the side.
  2. With the copy still selected, choose Rotate from the Arrange dropdown (on the Home tab).
  3. From the submenu, choose Flip Vertical (Figure E).
  4. Drag the copy to the lower half and line it up with the arrow in the top half (Figure E).
  5. With the lower triangle still selected, choose No Fill from the Shape Fill dropdown (Shape Styles group on the contextual Shape Format tab).
  6. Choose No Outline from the Shape Outline dropdown.
  7. Hold down the shift key and select both triangles and then press Ctrl+G to group the two. (If you’re working in the browser editing, hold down the Shift key.) The two selection boxes will turn into one. If this doesn’t happen, try again.
  8. With the grouped triangles selected, apply the Spin animation as you did before.

Figure E

  Create the lower half of the dial.

By changing the axis of rotation from the center of the upper triangle to the center of the fake dial, you force the spin animation to work around the clock! As you can see in Figure F, the upper triangle now spins through both the upper and lower halves of the circle. You can use this workaround any time you need to adjust the axis of rotation for a shape.

Figure F

  The upper triangle spans the entire circle.

Also see

Use a change of scenery to change your strategy


Sometimes a different perspective can do wonders for your company’s strategic approach.

Image: Danyel Ballesteros, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Nearly everyone has had their life dramatically changed due to COVID-19. One of the myriad changes to my life has been a shift in my travel. For more than a decade, I would spend some portion of each week traveling the world to visit clients, and I can’t recall the last month that went by without a half-dozen airplane rides and associated hotel rooms. This year, I stopped flying in February, and haven’t been in an airport since. It’s been wonderful for spending time with my family and getting deeply connected to the rhythms of family life. One of the few things I miss about the travel, however, is the change in perspective that it brought.

SEE: Return to work: What the new normal will look like post-pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

This hit home several weeks ago when we decided to take a “safe vacation,” traveling to a family member’s home in Florida that they’d recently vacated. While we weren’t able to do our usual activities, the simple change in physical location was surprisingly uplifting for all of us, especially as our activities and movements had been so restricted over the previous months.

The power of a new perspective

There’s a rather obvious benefit to shifting your physical location. Your awareness of your surroundings is heightened as many things are unfamiliar, and your routines are forcibly broken since the people and environment around you are different. While it can be difficult to take a vacation every time you need a new perspective, a simple walk outside, or even a visit to a different department and conversation with someone outside IT, can provide some of that perspective.

EE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)

Even more dramatically, immersing yourself in a different industry or organization can provide a large helping of perspective, and is also one of the most powerful ways to generate new initiatives and strategies for your technology organization. History is rife with inventions that failed at their designed purpose, but were wildly successful in another application. From Play-Doh, which was designed as a wallpaper remover, to the ubiquitous Post-it note, which leveraged an unwanted and accidentally discovered adhesive, what’s interesting is that the application of these inventions was perhaps even more important than the invention itself. In many cases, the inventor failed to make the connection between his or her invention and a completely different application, requiring a change in perspective or an outsider’s help to see the connection.

Changing your scenery

It was occasionally flabbergasting that during my early career, when I was focused more on individual technologies, companies would ask for dozens of case studies where another company in their industry had applied the technology in question in exactly the manner they were considering. There’s certainly a valid risk mitigation aspect to this—if someone else has successfully done what you’re trying to do, it’s probably a safe bet to follow their path. However, many of these clients included “innovation” or “competitive advantage” among their objectives, which was odd since they were essentially asking what everyone else was doing, and how they could do the exact same thing.

SEE: TechRepublic Premium editorial calendar: IT policies, checklists, toolkits, and research for download (TechRepublic Premium) 

A smaller, and more interesting set of companies I would speak with had aspirational companies or industries in mind that were very different from their own and were not direct competitors. An aerospace company might look to an automaker for new perspectives, or more interestingly, a state government might look to Amazon for inspiration on how to serve its residents. These companies would try to imagine their aspirational company operating their business. How would they deploy their core technology assets? How might they view their business partners and customers differently? What risks would they be willing to take, and what “industry norms” might they readily challenge and abandon?

In some cases, this simple and no-cost exercise in shifting perspectives dramatically reshaped these companies’ strategies, the technologies they applied, and even their core mission. Some of the more extreme examples, like governments imagining Amazon running their entity, have even caused dramatic reorganization of agencies to focus more on customer needs than functional silos.

Take a trip without leaving town

Try this simple perspective-shifting exercise at your next leadership meeting. Spend an hour considering what would happen if Amazon or Uber ran your business. What technologies would they deploy? What would they regard as the most important aspects of your business, and what would they quickly cast aside? What questions would they ask and what assumptions would they challenge? How would they deliver products and services differently than what you’re doing today?

Many of the answers to these questions will be uncomfortable, or quickly met with “that will never work here,” but if nothing else, you’ll gain a new perspective on your business that will help shape your technology strategy, and perhaps serve as fodder for some interesting conversations with your fellow leaders.

Executive Briefing Newsletter

Discover the secrets to IT leadership success with these tips on project management, budgets, and dealing with day-to-day challenges.
Delivered Tuesdays and Thursdays

Sign up today

Also see

Speed of Change: How Fast Are You?


How fast is your IT? You need speed and adaptability to adjust as big changes in the global economy and our daily lives keep coming. Disruption is the status quo, and the “new normal” is not yet defined.
This spring, 2,200 IT professionals and senior IT leaders participated in a survey and shared:

  • How fast their organizations can respond to change

  • What application development challenges are holding them back

  • What makes them more (or less!) ready for change

Download today to learn more about those who lead and those who don’t. You’ll also find out if you are a leader, and get tips on what to do if you are not.

How to change the resolution in Google Meet


If you prefer your video conference meetings to look good, Google Meet has you covered. With a couple of clicks, you can improve the send and receive resolution. Jack Wallen shows you how.

By now, you’ve realized that video conferencing has become the new norm. In fact, you’re probably holding various types of remote meetings daily. You might also be using different platforms for those meetings. Many default to Zoom, as it has become the de facto standard for video conferencing. However, you might have noticed that Google released a new platform for this purpose. 

That new platform is Google Meet. This free service offers unlimited meetings, live captioning, cross-platform compatibility, video and audio preview screen, adjustable layouts, host controls, screen sharing, and messaging. If you’ve opted to give Google Meet a try, you might have noticed that, out of the box, it defaults to the lower resolution of 360p for both send and receive. 

SEE: Windows 10 Start menu hacks (TechRepublic Premium)

For anyone with a slower connection, that resolution is fine. However, if you (and those you are conferencing with) have the bandwidth, why not pump up the volume of that resolution to the max 720p? No, it’s not high resolution, but it’s significantly better than 360p. When you want your video conferencing to look as good as possible, you definitely want to make this change. 

Let me show you how. 

How to change the resolution in Google Meet

  1. Open a Google Meet and click the menu button at the bottom-right corner. 
  2. From the popup menu, select Settings. In the resulting window, change the Send resolution from 360p to 720p and then change the Receive resolution to 720p as well. 
  3. Click Done and you’re set. 

What you and your participants will see should be quite the improvement. 

Note: The one caveat to this is that Meet will always default to 360p, so you have to set these options for every meeting. Fortunately, the higher definition settings are but a couple of clicks away.

Google Weekly Newsletter

Learn how to get the most out of Google Docs, Google Cloud Platform, Google Apps, Chrome OS, and all the other Google products used in business environments.
Delivered Fridays

Sign up today

Also see

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

How to change the resolution in Google Meet



How to change the resolution in Google Meet

Length: 2: 04 |
Jul 7, 2020

If you prefer your video conference meetings to look good, Google Meet has you covered. With a couple of clicks, you can improve the send and receive resolution. Jack Wallen shows you how.