How Stock Images Improve Your Presentation Design

26 October, 2017 | Ryan [simple-social-share]

How Stock Images Improve Your Presentation Design

Whatever your presentation may be, some stock imagery of people, buildings, etc. can make it look much better. Here’s how it’ll improve your presentation design

You’ve heard that old saying “a picture’s worth a thousand words.”

Well, what if I told you it was more than that?

According to MIT, the human brain processes images in about thirteen milliseconds.

That’s roughly sixty thousand times faster than word processing!

So, why then are we bombarded with text and bullet points in every Powerpoint Presentation?

I mean, we’ve all been there, right?

The presenter drones on and on with slide after slide of ugly paragraph blocks.

You don’t remember what was said.

Instead, you concentrate all your efforts on staying awake.

It’s a result of bad presentation design.

In this piece, we’re going to see how stock photos increase information retention, boost your emotional appeal, and enhance understanding.

Information Retention – The Heart of Every Presentation Design

At the end of the day, it’s all about being memorable.

It makes you look good, and your point sticks in the mind of your audience.

Studies show that sixty-five percent of people are visual learners.

They remember information better with images rather than words.

Stock photos also create an association between what’s on screen and what you say.

Think of it as a cubby hole for information storage.

For example, let’s use Smoky the Bear.

We all know his famous slogan “only you can prevent forest fires.”

Why is that?

Unconsciously, our minds have created a link between that sentence and the image of a mild-mannered grizzly bear wearing a park ranger hat.

Because you don’t often see polite grizzly bears wearing hats, the image sticks out.

It then leads your brain to the words of the slogan.

That’s great presentation design.

But be careful.

Images are powerful.

Using too many on one slide transforms your presentation into a Michael Bay movie.

Limit yourself to one per slide.

Emotional Appeal – Hit Them in the Feels

Have you ever seen a commercial for Feed the Children or Unicef?

What did you see?

Probably an image of an impoverished, starving child, right?

Do you know why that is?

It’s because the presentation design of those commercials appeals to your sense of sympathy.

It makes you sad.

It makes you inclined to donate money to help that poor kid.

It moves you.

This use of images to appeal to emotions dates back to Aristotle.

He referred to it as pathos, and it’s a great way to keep your audience’s attention, especially when you’re making an argument or a pitch.

It also helps with retention.

Think of your most vivid memory.

Maybe you were excited on your first day of kindergarten.

Maybe you were nervous for your first kiss.

Whatever the case, you likely remember that moment in detail, right?

That’s because your mind connected that moment with a feeling.

The image of that moment and everything around it stayed with you.

You can do the same thing in Powerpoint.

For instance, let’s say you’re talking about drought in California.

An excellent presentation design would be to have a slide of statistics and a stock photo of a desert in the background.

Because deserts have little life and no water, they tend to scare people.

Your audience may not remember the exact statistics, but they will attach fear to the image of the desert.

It may also move them to take preventative action.

Enhanced Understanding

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that spoke a different language?

I’ll bet it if you have, it was short.

Misunderstanding is easily the biggest obstacle to effective communication.

Incorporating stock photos into your presentation design hurdles that barrier and gets your point across.

Let’s look back at our previous examples of Smoky the Bear, the starving child, and the desert.

We know they are memorable and emotional, but what do they mean?

What’s the point of these images?

In the case of Smoky, it’s about environmental responsibility.

By wearing a park ranger hat, Smoky presents himself as an authority figure.

At a young age, most of us are taught to obey authority figures.

So when Smoky says “only you can prevent forest fires,” we understand that we need to be careful next time we go camping.

The starving child and the desert share a similar meaning.

We understand from both of these images that child starvation is a problem as is a lack of water.

Furthermore, all three of these pictures convey a message that we understand as well: these problems can be solved by you.

We know we need to act.

You can also use images for more than just sending a message.

Infographics are used on blogs all the time to package large amounts of information into bite-sized portions that people can comprehend.

If you are discussing a complex concept or process, adding a flowchart to your presentation design simplifies the concept and lets the audience see how one thing leads to the other.

It reduces the amount of text you have to type and that your audience has to wade through.


Pictures are powerful.

You can incorporate them as visual aids to convey a message or simplify something difficult.

Stock photos as a part of presentation design assist the communication of ideas.

They help ensure your point is made and remembered without slides of constant text.

So where can you get stock photos?

Now, that you’re on board with the influence of images, it’s time to use some.

Unfortunately, you can’t just use Google Images.

You may not be licensed to use their pictures.

Using a copywritten image without permission could land you in hot water.

You don’t want to go to court over a Powerpoint Presentation.

That’s why we’re here.

We have a catalog of stock photos available for download that’s updated weekly.

Additionally, we have several resources at your disposal so you can craft the perfect presentation design.

Got some other presentation design tips you want to share?

What are some of your favorite stock images to use?

What do you do to prepare for a presentation?

Leave a comment and share your story.

We want to hear from you.


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