Some science is hard to argue with, and is ignored entirely to your own peril. Great presenters have learned to use powerpoint pictures and visuals that captivate attention and compliment their messages.
However, this does not mean that you should slam any and every picture you can find on each of your slides. The idea here is to use purposeful pictures: Only well-chosen pictures are worth a thousand words. And irrelevant and ugly visuals will have the opposite effect, of distracting from you main message and splitting your audience's attention in two.
Using Purposeful PowerPoint Pictures
Here are a few tips for utilizing pictures and visuals in your slides:
- Big is Better. Pictures is the one element of slide design where its okay to fill up your white space. Use the electronic board to your advantage by stretching your pictures and making them large. If you're using simple and attractive pictures (as described below), you'll want to give the audience a great view of it.
Talk to someone about something, and when you quiz them 72 hours later, most will have forgotten 90% of the details. But present information with a picture, and they'll likely recall about two-thirds of your talk.
- Simplicity is stronger. Keeping your slides clutter-free is a must for any kind of presentation, and goes for using pictures as well. It's usually better to use a single, large image that's attractive and compliments your message (i.e. what's being spoken by you at the time the image comes up), than using a myriad of smaller powerpoint pictures that basically portray the same thing.
- Bullets are bad. I've written elsewhere on the irony that bullet points on slides have become nearly universally acceptable, even though they're largely useless. One big and beautiful picture will often convey the message better than a string of bullet points with descriptions. Next you should avoid temptation of combining your picture WITH bullet points! A great visual by itself will more often than not do the job.
- Attractive is... well attractive! Don't use sloppy, third-rate images. If you're using photos on your slides, take the time to search for quality photographs that look professional and is appealing to the eye. Be aware of copyright issues, and stay on the safe side by buying images from stockphoto websites such as fotolia.com (the one I personally use for this, and my other websites).
- It must have a purpose! PowerPoint Picture have the nice added effect of grabbing attention, so many presenters use it every so often to ensure the audience is still awake. But if you're going to be throwing up pictures of a lion juggling burning cell phones, when your talk is about energy-conservation, your bluff will most certainly be called. Your pictures must have a purpose, which means it must align with the main idea of your speech or talk, and aid the communication of the message you ultimately want to get across.