Types of Images that Can Be Used in a Presentation


An image can be a great way to convey the right message. As the old proverb goes, a picture is worth 10,000 words. (Not to mention, a visual is a heck of a lot less tedious to look at than a pile of words is to listen to.)


And since an image can convey in an instant a mood, an idea, a concept, the use of images can be critical to developing an exciting presentation.


This article is designed to help you choose and/or create the right images for your presentations.


The types of images that can be used are:


Cropped Photo

You can choose a photo with background or you can choose a cropped photo. With the cropped image there is no background. We see only the object or person that is the focus, as in the examples to the left. In a presentation on nutrition, for example, you can use cropped photos of fruits, vegetables, meats, bread, whatever. In a presentation about childhood you can use cropped photos of toys and other things that relate to kids. You get the idea. Simple stuff.


This option is suitable for people with limited resources and strict budgets, since with a quick Internet image search it’s usually easy to find cropped photos on all kinds of topics. Just look for things that relate to your message and you’ll have the elements you need to make slides on the cheap. The cropped photo helps to create a clean visual style it directs an audience to specifics without allowing for irrelevant interpretation, and it contributes to the assimilation and retention of information.



In the case of business presentations, run as fast as you can from clipart, those ubiquitous images available even on your computer.


In addition to making a presentation look awful, these images can impart a childish and unprofessional look to a presentation, which is something you for sure don’t want. We discourage the use of clipart because it makes one presentation look like all the rest – and so much for making an impact on an audience.


Custom Icons

The custom icon is a simplified, universal image (a traffic signal, for example), and using it can be a great alternative to illustration.


But if you choose to use custom icons in a presentation, the ideal is to design them to be presentation-specific.


Because icons are simplified images, they can be based on conventional geometric shapes, and making them may not require an artistic skill set.


Typeface as Image

By changing the forms, fill and color of letters, words can be turned into visual elements that have meaning.

In a presentation on the scarcity of natural resources, for example, you may write ‘water tanks’ with letters filled with water, and from letter to letter gradually decrease the level of the water. The text in this case goes beyond the verbal and functions ultimately as visual language. Above you can see simple examples of typefaces worked creatively.


Drawing and illustration

Opposite to visual sophistication, there is another movement afoot ­– to go back to basics – back to drawing on paper.


Many specialists tell us that even the most rudimentary drawings can be important facilitators of communication.


In a 2009 seminar, at a VizThink event, the consultant Dan Roam disclosed how he helped a group of executives from a multinational IT company visualize a problem by drawing it on paper. He told the story of a U.S. Secretary of State who only realized the relationship between the amount of taxes levied and revenue earned when the gentleman saw on paper the curve of revenues falling and the curve of taxes rising. In this particular case, in fact, a simple hand-drawn graph guided the Secretary’s thinking and changed the economic course of a country.


But, while some say that the more human-like the drawing, the more reaction it will provoke, at the same time we can’t afford to ignore the efficacy of the scanned and stylized digital image. So in corporate presentations, both the simple drawing and the stylized image can be used, because both can help a presenter convey a message.