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Six ways to improve the graphics and images in your presentations

Selecting powerful graphics and images will help make your presentation memorable and keep your audience’s interest and attention. Here are some tips and ideas to try that are quick, easy or cheap.

Comic Cartoon Word ‘Pow!’ In Grey With Purple Splatter Dots In Background
Comic Cartoon Word ‘Pow!’ In Grey With Purple Splatter Dots In Background

1. Choose photos over bullets.

Carmine Gallo, communication coach, and author of the book, “Talk Like TED: The 9-Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds,” analyzed hundreds of TED talks to find out what made this format so popular. When it comes to slides used during presentations, Gallo noticed many lacked bullet points, but used pictures and limited amounts of text per slide.

“This technique is called ‘picture superiority,’” writes Gallo in an article for Forbes.com.  “It simply means we are much more likely to recall an idea when a picture complements it.”

Seth Godin writes in his e-booklet “Really Bad Presentations” that your slides should “trigger an emotional reaction in the audience. They sit up and want to know what you’re going to say that fits in with that image. Then, if you do it right, every time they think of what you said, they’ll see the image (and vice versa).” Try this trick in your next presentation by using an unusual photo or subject matter and work it into your presentation with an analogy. Example, you can use a photo of animals being herded, to organizational challenges.

2. Know your audience and use images that are relevant to them.

One memorable presentation I attended contained some very funny graphics that were inspired by popular internet memes. The audience was full of WordPress enthusiast, so the presenter knew her crowd (young, tech and internet savvy) and the graphics went over well.

When you hear your audience laughing, you know they are paying attention.

Comic Cartoon Word ‘Zing!’ In Green With Purple Halftone Dots In Background
Comic Cartoon Word ‘Zing!’ In Green With Purple Halftone Dots In Background

3. Transform boring pie charts

Pie charts and graphs are helpful, but often boring. Transform them into cool, eye-catching graphics using tools available to you in most presentation programs like PowerPoint.  Thomas Baekdal, founder of baekdal.com shows you how in this blog post.

Free PowerPoints add-ons like Oomfo let you create beautiful charts and graphs that go beyond the built-in charting capabilities of PowerPoint. The add-on also allows you to create charts from live data sources such as Excel spreadsheets, Salesforce and Google Analytics.

Use Cacoo, an online drawing tool, to create flow charts, building diagrams and wire frames quickly and easily for your presentations.

4. Contrast.

Keep in mind that when you design your slides “all of the colors will be seen 20-30% lighter than what you’re seeing on your laptop screen,” writes the Power Point Ninja Brent Dykes. Make sure you bump up the contrast and color saturation to deal with this difference. Failing to do this can lead to people not being able to see what’s on the screen.

5. Create your own graphics

You can take two boring pieces of clipart and combine them into new, unique and relevant graphics and you don’t need Photoshop to do this. Powerpoint allows you to knock out the background of objects or layer them over other images to create your own.  You can also use shadow effects to ads emphasis to your graphics, helping them stand out on white backgrounds.

Using tools to create graphics in PowerPoint might take a little time and reading to master, but if you are

on a budget of “zero dollars” and lack other resources, then this might be good alternative.

Comic Cartoon Word ‘Wow!’ In Yellow With Green Splatter Dots In Background
Comic Cartoon Word ‘Wow!’ In Yellow With Green Splatter Dots In Background

6.  Choose better stock photos

If you are going to resort to using Stock Photos, (and there are a lot of legal, free ones available out there) stay away from wooden, clichéd photos and choose ones with more interesting angles. You can also use photos that utilize the rule of thirds and layer text over them in any empty spaces with solide backgrounds. Just make sure your text is legible.

Make sure the images are the highest-quality and resolution available. “For images that fill the entire slide, the image size (in pixels) should be equal to the video screen’s resolution,” writes Steve Rindsberg, author of “PowerPoint FAQ. Most laptop and video projectors top out at 1024 × 768, so that’s a safe default to work with.

Also, make sure you have the proper rights to use the photos (legally obtained and royalty-free).

What are some of your tips for using graphics in presentations? Comment below with your tips and you could win a $20 VectorToons.com Gift Card! Winners will be chosen at random.