Choosing the Right Images for Your PowerPoint Presentations

The images you choose for your PowerPoint presentation will have an incredible impact on viewer attention, esteem and retention. That means that picking the right PowerPoint images is essential to the overall success of your presentation. Here are nine tips to help you choose imagery in PowerPoint presentations that will make a strong impression on your audience.


1. Select Images That Tell a Story

Think of the images that you use in PowerPoint as a connected whole instead of conceiving of them as discreet entities. There’s no doubt that the information in your presentation shares a common thread, and your images should as well. Pick images that tell a logical story on their own or that are related by aesthetic qualities. Creating consistency is essential. If you’ve already picked several black-and-white images, use these instead of color photos throughout your presentation.


2. Use Unique Images

This photo, which juxtaposes a man’s face over an aerial city shot, is absolutely unique. It’s clear that this isn’t a stock photo or generic piece of clipart. It’s an original image that speaks directly to the presentation for which it’s been prepared. When choosing visuals for your presentation, use unique images whenever possible. Ask around your organization and find out if there’s an experienced photographer who can help you create high-quality, original images that correspond directly to what you’ll be talking about. This is a great way to impress and engage an audience.

3. Pick Photos That Enhance Understanding

Remember that imagery in PowerPoint should never be chosen simply because it looks good. Every photo that you use should also enhance audience understanding of your topic. If you’re giving a talk about urban planning, display images that are directly related to municipal or development plans. If you’re talking about farming technologies, use photos that showcase the machinery, techniques or products that you’ll be referencing. The key is to ensure that there are strong connections between your images and your presentation topic.


4. Select Images That Encourage Emotional Connections

Encouraging your audience to make an emotional connection with your presentation is essential to overall success. One of the easiest ways to evoke emotions in your audience is to use powerful images. For example, using a beautiful photo of a mother and child in an intimate moment of play is a great way to appeal to the emotions of your audience. Images that encourage emotional connections are compelling, relatable and memorable.

5. Pick Photos That Drive Action

Helping your audience connect emotionally to your presentation is important, but you also need to drive your audience to take action. Perhaps you want your audience to focus on a certain aspect of one slide or you want to invite exploration in an interactive PowerPoint presentation. Whatever the action you want to encourage, use images to direct your readers towards it. If you want your audience to look to the right, for example, display a photo of an individual who is gazing in that direction. Subtle visual cues can have a huge impact on an audience.


6. Choose Complementary Images

In order to make a great impression with images in PowerPoint, you’ll need to choose photos that complement one another. Creating consistency is key here, but you should also think about putting two or three complementary images on one slide to help your audience members draw connections between related pieces of your presentation. For example, juxtaposing fresh coffee beans against roasted beans and a beautiful latte is a great way to illustrate a relationship between concepts.

7. Use Images That Speak to Organizational Branding

If you’re making a presentation on behalf of your organization, be sure that all of the images you use speak to that organization’s brand and ethos. That means using images that play on branded colors as well as images that speak to brand values. Imagine that you’re giving a presentation about green manufacturing for a company that emphasizes environmental responsibility. Using earthy colors and images of clean, crisp skies and waterways is a great way to send a subtle visual message that incorporates brand standards.


8. Prioritize Simplicity & Clarity

There’s nothing complicated about this photo of four beakers with colored liquids. Because it’s simple and clear, viewers know right away what’s going on in the image. As you choose PowerPoint images, focus on simple visual that send a clear message. Avoid confusing your audience with overly complex or busy images. It’s particularly important to focus on simplicity and clarity if your presentation covers a complicated topic. Straightforward visuals give your audience a chance to relax and absorb your message.

9. Use Only High-Quality Images

It should come as no surprise that all of your PowerPoint images should be of the highest quality possible. Use high-resolution image files shot by professional photographers whenever possible. Avoid using images that are blurry, overexposed or grainy. Remember that the quality of the images you put on the screen sends a message about the quality of your information. If you use amateur images, your audience is likely to assume that you’re an amateur too.

Following these simple guidelines will help ensure that your PowerPoint presentations are visually compelling. Of course, picking images for your PowerPoint presentations can be harder said than done. At Synapsis Creative, we’re design and PowerPoint professionals who know how to leverage imagery to create evocative, effective presentations. No matter your presentation needs, we can help. 


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Tom Howell

About Tom Howell