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Posted on May 31, 2017
Yes, images can supercharge your content and presentation by boosting comprehension and retention by 25-60% (over words alone). But not if you’ve chosen the wrong picture!
I remember watching a thought leader presenting to a group of corporate executives hoping to get sponsorship for his research project. In an effort to connect with them, he showed a cartoon that was completely inappropriate and he was the only one in the room to laugh. I’ve also seen people in very formal settings using clip art, rainbow colored word art and pixelated or stretched photos they grabbed off the internet. These faux pas can tank your presentation and even torpedo your reputation.
How to Choose the BEST images
Remember, the purpose of using images is to ENGAGE your audience.
1. Use Images With Intention – Before you spend time searching for that perfect image, make sure you know what the goal is for that particular slide. Are you trying to explain something (a case image), to elicit emotion (laughter, empathy, motivation) or to reduce text by representation (a clock, a traffic jam, a rider-less horse)? This will help you know what “best” looks like.
2. Look for (some) Powerful Images – Not every image is going to resonate with your audience, therefore select these images carefully. Know your audience and what interests them. An image of a sad child by a polluted river would be a good choice for a talk about the environment but not necessarily for a talk on poor leaders and bad morale. AND, make sure you don’t diminish the impact of your powerful image by overusing too many of these. At Laser Pointer, we select specific moments (and powerful images) to really supercharge a particular message for the greatest impact.
3. Be (a bit) Consistent- And that brings us to point #3. It’s very easy to get caught up in looking for the “perfect” image for every slide. However, think of your presentation as a whole when selecting images. Put your deck into “slide sorter” so you can see the entire thing and create a consistent look and feel. That doesn’t mean you can’t mix and match slides with icons, images and other graphics, but if you do, have intent behind your variety.
One of the great things about pictures is you can let your personality shine through. Are you a comedic, serious, silly or a sarcastic person? Whatever you are, don’t be afraid to use images that represent these characteristics to your audience.
Where to Get the Right Pictures
Create Your Own Content: What better way to connect with your audience than to use images you took yourself? Take pictures everywhere you go (you can use a camera or your smart phone). Think about your topic and look for scenes that exemplify points you make in your talk. Once you have a picture you want to use, PowerPoint has great tools to help you crop or apply filters to make your photos look unique. Think of the possibilities…
Images from your office, trips, hobbies and family…
Free Stock Photos: Finding free commercial photos to use can be difficult but you just have to know where and how to look. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a list of great websites where you can find free stock photos.
Here are some tips on how to search stock sites for the images you want:
• Start with Broad Search Terms- use abstract words such as fun or anger to find images that deliver your message without being too literal.
• Select High Resolution- Always try to go for the high-resolution images so that when you try to enlarge them they won’t become blurry.
• Use Filters- At times, the options can be overwhelming. Filtering images by color, size or date can help you find the image your looking for faster.
And if you can’t find what you want and just HAVE to grab an image off the internet, here are some Copyright Rules to consider.
MITLibraries explains copyright infringement as using someone else’s copyrighted work without permission or without a solid fair use case, and is a legal matter handled by the courts.
I am NOT a lawyer and am only regurgitating what I have read but essentially, “fair use” is some reasonable balance of the below 4 factors. This doesn’t mean someone can’t try to sue you, only that these are the factors that a court will consider in their judgement.
Bottom line? A picture is worth a thousand words IF used correctly but can end up costing you if used the wrong way.
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