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How to Insert Images into PowerPoint Correctly

by Adam Noar

how to insert images into powerpoint correctlyThis is your time to shine.

The boss has “given” you (ok maybe it was a bit more adamant on his part) the “privilege” of putting together an important PowerPoint.

But you know that such a creation requires the use of good graphics. In fact, you want images that make sense to what is being showcased.

To the point, imagery can make or break a quality presentation.

I suppose if we left it at that, you have now learned the entire lesson. But I am sure you are waiting for something a bit more engaging. Let’s get real. If you oversee putting together a PowerPoint presentation, the last thing you want is bland.

Even more vital, is your team knows how to bring together every visual to the slide deck with coherency. Do you want your audience to be held in rapt attention or pull out the torches to burn down the ‘Frankenstein’ image mishmash?

Let’s image this out.

#1.) You got to have a moodboard

Ok, a moodboard? What in the world is a moodboard? Something to get you into that special PowerPoint feeling? (feeling a bit amorous now?) Ok, obviously we are not going in that direction.

When speaking about moodboard’s we must get some clarification.

You know what your topic is. The text comes naturally to you. But what about the graphics or pictures you need to support or illustrate the topic? It isn’t always the easiest to come together on what you want to use to support your presentation.

Slides must have a natural flow in the style and cohesion of what is being shown to an audience. The photos being used must “speak” to your audience, not drain their brain. Thus, the need for a moodboard. Yes, I did say thus…no big.

A moodboard is going to help you convey the vision that you have in mind. It allows you to gain a creative and inspired approach to how you select and place your visuals.

create a moodboard for your powerpoint presentation

The moodboard isn’t your high-school collage that had no consistency or focus. The moodboard works towards you being spired in your presentation creation.  Looking at a blank canvass, like Davinci did before Smiling Ms. Lisa came along, is annoying. Being inspired, like Leonardo, allows for a process that makes sense.

Once you coordinate the pictures you have in mind on the panel, you gain a clearer idea of how the presentation will move along. Your thoughts, text and pictures establish a close trinity allowing the presentation to be seamless.

Another benefit of a moodboard is how it cuts down on time being wasted in preparing your presentation. Something we all only have so much allotted to us. A client or boss man can look at your intended presentation and say yay or nay to your concept.

One last thing to keep in mind with the moodboard is allow it to become a foundation to build your presentation from. Are the images currently in place over the top or just the right level of “wow” factor? Does it reflect something the audience will relate to or think you went too old-school. What works for millennials may not be the cup of tea for baby-boomers.

#2.) These stay and this goes…ok this goes as well

Now you know what TO use…and how to get there. But what about the no-no’s? Rejection is something we all hate, but intangibles can handle the pressure.

Your post-it (or whatever your topic) brand works when you know what to use and what not to put into the PowerPoint.

There are various things to think about with what NOT to use. Got some ideas of what they would be? Come on, I have time to let you guess. I’ll time you…starting now.

Ok, maybe you didn’t take the time to do this, but I had time to get a libation while pretending you did. So, what are some “do not’s” in image use? Not only what, but why not use certain types of images. And not JUST because I said not to.

First “do not” use would be things requiring tunnel or lengthy fields of vision. You already have a back row with your audience. Don’t extend what they must look at. Keep it front and center.

As cute and adorable as animal pictures are, they should be hands off. (Unless your topic is the flying pig, then you are allowed a bit of leeway.) Images need to speak to the brand and furries and scaly can be off-target.

powerpoint watermark on image

What is that showing through your image? No, you wouldn’t do that? A watermark? Not something you want up in your presentation. That screams “amateur was here.”

#3.) Stick with beautiful stock images 

Are you a photographer? Didn’t think you would be asked that did you? Well, it is a question you might want to consider.

If picture taking isn’t your forte, and don’t know anyone that can snap a shutter for you, stock images probably are your best bet.

Think of stock images as a superhero. They do what you can’t…and better. Many sites exist to locate some amazingly captivating pictures. This is where you go “phew.”

An example of a quality place to find gorgeous stock images is Unsplash.com. This site has access to multiple categories that stand out.

unsplash.com is a great place to find images for your slides

unsplash.com is a great place to find images for your slides

Even better is that many images are not bank-busting in their cost. Finding free ones just made it better. Now you don’t need to buy that expensive digital camera…of course those are becoming dinosaurs with camera phones everywhere.

Just google stock images and away you go. Your presentation just got one step easier.

#4.) Your images need a color theme

Colors speak to us. Not in some ethereal or cosmic way either. They speak to how we think and feel and act.

But let’s not get so psychological and simply let the image color speak to your brand. Your topic or brand has certain baseline or centric tones that reveal themselves.

powerpoint images need to follow a color theme

When you find a color theme you like add it to your moodboard

Use colors in your images, in context, to reflect that brand. For example, a big-name department chain uses a color scheme that is reflective in all their commercials. Can you Target on which brand I am speaking of?

That is how your images should come across. A color palette that establishes a connection but is used lowkey and appropriate. It doesn’t take over the presentation…just compliments.

#5.) Filter it out

You’re probably noticing that the theme of this article is all about consistency.

Filters can bring a look of even lighting and tone to the overall look. Makes a difference with images side by side…or slide by slide.

Remember that “torching Frankenstein” discussion earlier? Keep images attractive and flowing by using filters to prevent the attack.

The beauty of filters is they can tone down pictures that may seem flashy or too vibrant.

You can create filters in PowerPoint from transparent shapes.

You can create filters in PowerPoint from transparent shapes.

If you really want to impress, investigate using PicMonkey.com. This site makes available all forms of filtering and other imagery tools. Easy to use web browser that takes all the hard work out of what you need to do. (Now you have time to get a libation.)

#6.) Place your images with intention

It doesn’t do any good to have beautiful photographs in your slides, and then ruin them with poor placement.

I mean, if you went to 3 Michelin star restaurant you wouldn’t expect your food to slopped all over your plate right? The same thing applies to slide design.

place your powerpoint images with intention

Just like a top chef places food extra carefully on a plate, you need to be extra careful on how you treat your images

For example, are you going to crop a particular image? You may have found just the right one, but you notice someone or something photo-bombed the image. So, your audience is looking at the bikini just left of center of the post-it notes. Not good.

What about how you place text or symbols upon an image? Does your message speak clearly or is it hindered by a background that makes it hard to read? The lady in the second row has vision problems enough by forgetting her glasses. Don’t add to her dilemma with her squinting to see if it is an “r” or a “p.”

Bringing it all together

If this is your first foray into unfamiliar territory of developing images for a PowerPoint presentation…hope these tips help.

If you are applying these tips and rules to your image creation, your presentation will be amazing. The right picture…the right tone and coloration…the right placement and sizing. All of this adds up to a well-thought-out visual.

Images used appropriately on a slide deck will develop your brand message with professionalism. I have been where you are (well in a sense) and knowing the ins and outs made all the difference.

Your clients will be happy. Doesn’t that make you happy? As one ancient sit-com actor once said, “Great, we are all happy.”

Hungry for more info on PowerPoint images?

Here’s an article you might enjoy:

12 places to find amazing free images for your presentations

professional PowerPoint template - the best PowerPoint template

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