The Modern Presenter: Goodbye Clip Art, Hello Photos!

September 23, 2013


What grabs people's attention today? Large, beautiful photos. Just look to your Facebook feed, Instagram and just about anywhere on the Web these days.

The same applies to presentations. Steve Jobs would have never use clip art -- so why would you? Today's presenter uses a full bleed image to replace the all too predictable PowerPoint template. It’s a great step forward for presentations, but the sad reality is that this format is quickly becoming abused.

Here are few simple tips and tricks to make sure you are choosing the right photography for your presentations.

Carefully Choose Your Source

There are plenty of stock photography options online these days. This includes sites like iStockPhoto, Jupiter Images, Fotolia, Dreamstime and many others. Some are robust. Others are not. Some are expensive. Others are not. Make sure you search and explore and choose the one that best resonates with you.

Search Creatively

Finding the right image can often be a lot more difficult than one might expect. For instance, let’s say you need to find an image that represents a happy customer. Your natural reaction would be to utilize the search term “customer,” but you may find yourself disappointed with the results. Instead, it may be more appropriate to do a search using words like “satisfaction” or “loyal.”

Select Wisely

One of the biggest pitfalls with photo selection is when a presenter chooses an image that is a cliche. You have probably seen your fair share of the “corporate handshake” or the classic “inspiration striking in the middle of a corn field” photos. You get the point. Choose wisely and avoid the overused.

Find Continuity

If you don’t classify yourself as a strong designer, the best thing you can do for yourself and your presentation is to find creative ways to create visual continuity in your presentation. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use the “Find Similar Photos” option, or find one photographer you love than dig through their portfolio. You are most likely to find the same types of photos in the style and format you like.

Watch Your Budget

Let’s face it -- photos are not cheap. You can quickly find yourself spending hundreds of dollars just on one presentation. Keep in mind, PowerPoint and Keynote don’t require high resolution photos so give your pocketbook a break by opting for cheaper medium resolution images. The savings will be significant in the long run.

At the end of the day, stock photography is a great alternative to the dreaded PowerPoint template. Just make sure you apply the rules above to make sure you are maximizing every photo.

Scott Schwertly is the author of How to Be a Presentation God and CEO of Ethos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki.