A picture is worth a thousand words, so many people believe that images should be on every slide to help effectively communicate your ideas to your audience. Pictures are a vital piece of your presentation, but when they are used inadequately, you can lose the investment of the viewers. Often pictures can be irrelevant or boring and it can make your presentation feel amateur and disorganized. Other times there is no need for an image as there can be other ways to communicate and highlight the most important points of your presentation.
The way your pictures are organized on your slides can imply the level of your professionalism to your audience. For instance, example 1 shows the difference between scattered images versus organized images. A chaotic slide can unintentionally convey that you are ill prepared or disorganized. Cluttered slides like this tend to occur when you find multiple pictures that fit the concept you are attempting to illustrate. Busy slides can cause problems for the audience because the slide has too much information with no focal point. The slide should only have the photos necessary to display your idea. Sometimes pictures are not needed at all and your thoughts can be shown through a single word or a brief sentence. Using relevant images only will maintain focus on the important concepts and will result in a greater understanding of your ideas.
Other common problems with presentations are using cheesy clipart, distracting backgrounds, and tiny images. Most of us have seen cheesy clipart which leaves us feeling like the speaker is an amateur (as seen in example 2). There is no reason to use this tacky artwork because you have plenty of copyright free pictures to use on the internet. Avoiding childish clipart will instantly give a more professional tone to the entire presentation. Another problem to avoid is using distracting images as backgrounds, like example 3. Complex images with text on top can make readability difficult.
My last example illustrates the typical practice for adding a photo to a slide by just dropping it in there with no thought, like in example 4. Photos like this would best be viewed as full frame for cognitive reasons. When you look at the photo pasted as is, there is more distraction created by the white boarder around the edge as well as the distracting black boarder that is part of the image. When images are cropped and full frame, the slide has an underlying tone that makes the presenter appear more intelligent.
Depending on the subject matter, you might not even need a picture. For instance, if you are discussing sales and productivity, it might be more useful to simply float the words ‘sales’ and ‘productivity’ onto the slide. Occasionally not using images will add variety to the presentation which helps keep audience engagement.
To summarize, using the right picture can be worth saying a thousand words. A tasteful image next to a few bullet points can say volumes without putting all of that text on the slide. Using images properly will gain audience appreciation because you put effort into your presentation.