Great Images… Right?

You want your PowerPoint to be impactful… to leave your audience with something ingrained in their memory. The experts in the field have all been saying to use more imagery and have fewer slides with bullets and text – that this formula will have the greatest effect on your audience.

Sounds simple enough, but how do you go about choosing an image? A great image can be a very subjective thing. So how do you really know if the chosen image is great, just OK, or totally pathetic?

First of all, a great image needs a couple of basic characteristics. Without this foundation, no matter how creative, funny, or moving the image may be, it will be average at best and will not provide the “wow factor” you’re looking for. The image needs to be high resolution, not pixilated. It should not be stretched, but should be of adequate size so it is clearly visible and fills up the area you want. The image should be professional looking – if it is a photograph, make sure the lighting, color, and composition look professional (use the wedding picture test – would you be happy if this was your wedding photograph?).

Many of the stock photo sites will have images that meet these criteria; however, just because an image is from a stock photo sites doesn’t mean it automatically meets these criteria, so be careful in your image selection.

Once you have this basic foundation for your image, the other factors are what I call the “3 R’s” of images: relevance, resonance, and rarity (uniqueness).

  • Relevance: A great image needs to match your message. This may “click” with your audience and serve as a powerful takeaway. Of course, this may require the proper setup and delivery by the speaker to ensure your point gets across as intended. This proper positioning of your chosen image will connect the dots for the audience and leave a powerful impression.
  • Resonance: While we certainly applaud and foster creativity, sometimes you need to reel it in and keep yourself focused. All too often someone will approach me with an idea for a slide he thinks is brilliant. We will show it around and with blank stares, we all say we just don’t get it. Make sure your image resonates with your audience, otherwise your really cool image will be nothing more than a really cool image. It will not have meaning and context and will just sit there on the screen, looking all pretty, with a lot of confused faces staring at it.
  • Rarity: While your image may be relevant to your message and truly resonate and connect with your audience, a truly great image will be rare or unique. This is basically the opposite of the handshake image we have seen a million times over. Find something different or apply a different use to something familiar. Mix it up for maximum impact, but don’t go too far out there, so that it’s not relevant and doesn’t resonate.

These tips should help with the beginnings of choosing great images to get maximum impact from your PowerPoint presentations and will have your audience talking about your message for days.

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