Images are powerful. When used correctly, they can elevate your message, help improve audience understanding of your points, and boost memorability. Images can also be inherently emotional, with a striking photo engaging with people on another, visceral level. There’s a reason they say “a picture is worth a thousand words” and why, at Maxwell Rogers, we make sure to use images throughout the work we do for our clients.
So, when you’re building your presentation, you should consider where you could include an image instead of text, or where it could help support a key message. We’ve put together a few tips below, to help you chose the perfect picture:
Is it relevant?
The first thing you need to consider when adding an image to a slide is its relevance. Why are you putting it in? Will it support the message? Or perhaps you’re using it to replace something like a large chunk of text? There’s no point including an image if a slide doesn’t need one. And if it isn’t relevant to your point, you can risk making things more confusing for your audience. So, remember to be clear with yourself about the purpose of the slide content, and ensure your imagery is needed and relevant.
Choosing the right image
The second thing to think about is which image to choose. Keep in mind the following, to help you pick the right one:
To start with, the quality needs to be good. A pixelated image will immediately downgrade your presentation, whatever your subject matter. Make sure the picture looks sharp and not fuzzy by checking the pixel ratio – you want it to be at least 300 pixels per inch. You can find this out by right clicking on the image in File Explorer and selecting “properties”. Or, just put it in the presentation at the size you want and make a judgement call by looking at it. Take into account the size of the screen you will be presenting off, as it may be larger.
Another thing to consider is the colour and tone of the image. Is it vibrant and colourful compared to the others? Or muted and dull? Does it fit with the types of images your brand uses? Keeping the colours, tone or style consistent is an easy way to polish up your presentation, as too much contrast can make it seem elementary, or like little thought has been put into it.
This tip is one of the most eye-opening to many clients we work with: how to remove the background to an image when we want to focus on the subject within. The key here is to pick the right type of image. The PNG file type supports a transparent background and will allow you to place the isolated subject matter on any coloured slide. JPEG files, on the other hand, will always have a background. To find out what type your image is, click on “properties”.
An alternative is to choose an image with a plain coloured background that matches the colour of your slide. For example, take the two images below. They both show a lemon, but one is set on a white background and looks more succinct and appealing.
The last consideration is impact. Usually, the more striking an image the better. This will depend on the type of presentation you are giving, but whatever the topic, you can still keep it in mind. Take the images of the cats below. The first one shows a full-body shot. It is very clear what the photo is depicting which is good, but has minimal impact. The second image, however, is much more striking. Not only is the contrast higher, which makes it more interesting to look at, but the eye contact with the cat draws our attention as well. Its expression also gives the impression it is watching, like something is about to happen, which creates a slight feeling of suspense. If you think of an advert for pet food, which is more likely to catch your attention? Probably the second one. So, always think about your audience when choosing an image, and take the time to find one beyond the cliché or norm.
Know your rights
Lots of photos you may find online are protected by copyright, so its important to do your research and double check you actually have permission to use them. It might seem complex, but it’s definitely worth it to avoid getting in trouble.
Here are some of our favourite copyright-free image sites to use. If you choose an image from here for corporate use, please double check permissions, just to be sure.
Paid-for sites with various licenses
Free to use for commercial and non-commercial usage
We hope that’s been a useful introduction to using images in your presentations. When done right, they can be so powerful in connecting with and engaging an audience, and we’d encourage you to use them where relevant. If you have any questions, or would like to know how we could help you elevate your presentations even further, send us a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org.