Admittedly, I’m not much of a visual learner; coming from a writing background, I tend to learn better from reading text, which is still a visual medium, but tends to demand more focus than imagery. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why designers earn more than writers, and Instagram has almost triple the number of active users compared to Twitter (1 billion vs 321 million).
First you need to source imagery or inspiration for the visual elements and there is a process to choosing the right images for your presentation. Finding a fitting image generally means scouring free stock imagery websites and libraries. Try to avoid literal interpretations of your messaging – seek out images that adds emotional or narrative value for your presentation. Here are some of our favourite stock image sites.
Then you need to think about think like whether the image should flood fill or only cover part of the slide; whether the image should clash with or complement your colour scheme; also think of the placement of your text in relation to your image choices.
Next, you may need to think about cropping your imagery – either with autoshape or freeform depending on the style and shape of your image. There are also various formatting options that can be used to highlight your image such as sizing, positioning, and brightness.
The use of borders can also help to highlight images, so think about whether a border will help make you images pop as well as potential border colour choices and the weight/thickness of that border. This ‘snapshot treatment’ is particularly useful when images cannot be enlarged enough, backgrounds can’t be removed, or you’re including several images on a single slide.
Use with Care and Purpose
When it comes to image usage, one key thing to remember is that imagery that touches at least three sides of the slide tends to look better. Also, isolated imagery can be great for making slides look less busy and cluttered.
Imagery can used in three ways within slideshows – as a background behind text; as a supplement to text; or as the primary focus of a slide.
When using as a background, it’s useful to tweak the transparency on include a colour overlay to dull out the image a little and bring focus on the text. If using as a supplement to the text, the image should complement the text rather than distract.
If imagery is the focal point of the slide, ensure the resolution is right, the colours don’t wash out any overlayed text, and your image choice supports your overall presentation. Using imagery as the primary focus tends to create greater impact and viewer retention. However, bear in mind the audience that you’re presenting to – while some may appreciate great imagery, others may simply enjoy a cute emoji or icon that reflects the message or brand on display.
Images transform dull information into something more digestible and engaging. It’s the reason data visualisation is easier to read than Excel spreadsheets. But remember to use high quality and relevant images, otherwise it’s just pretty pictures serving zero purpose.
Keen to animate your imagery and flex those creative skills in PowerPoint, check out our free Intro Animation template or Premade Animations, so you can easily begin designing with real finesse and ease.