We recently posted about easy ways to add visual interest to your presentations, course site or social media posts. This post pointed you in the direction of some useful stock image sources and simple tools to help with basic image editing.

Now that you’ve started building a collection of images, you might be experiencing analysis paralysis, wondering which ones to choose and actually use. Keep reading for some general advice that will help you choose the pic(k)s of the bunch.

Keep it relevant

Choose images that complement your content by reinforcing your point, or that add another layer of meaning and encourage deeper thinking about your content. Keep your particular audience in mind and choose images that are relevant to them; will they understand and appreciate your reference?

Do the images add a bit of ‘oomph’ and make your slide, page or post more memorable? This is useful for your students (or other audience members) when they are referring back to or recalling parts of your presentation or course site.

Make it visually appealing

Do your images look like they belong together? A good way to create a cohesive look for your presentation or course site is, where possible, to choose images that are similar in terms of brightness, contrast, colours, composition, size and orientation.

Try to use high quality images – finding images takes time, so make it worth your while and start with a higher resolution version. Avoid images that are unintentionally blurry or pixelated because they have been incorrectly sized. You can make sure your images are resized correctly by using ImageResize.org or making sure you ‘constrain proportions’ when resizing an image in PowerPoint by dragging from the corners rather than the sides.

Let’s keep this image landscape, not squashscape!

Make it modern and up to date

Try to avoid stock image clichés like people looking directly at the camera or images that have a ‘marketing brochure’ type of feel, as well as images that lack diversity and can appear to reinforce tired stereotypes of different professions and activities.

You might also think about different ways you could represent common concepts with images. For example, collaboration in your context may be better represented by an image of bees working together rather than a group of people having a business meeting. Or you could use a more fresh and modern take on the light bulb to represent innovation and creativity.


Less is more

It isn’t necessary to add an image to every single slide or page. If the image isn’t really enhancing your work it probably isn’t needed. A picture doesn’t always paint a thousand words and sometimes an alternative to a photo, such as a large quote in a beautiful font can work really well.

Have fun!

You don’t have to a be a comedian, but don’t be afraid to inject a bit of humour with an appropriately funny image if it fits. Sometimes a cat pic or an animated gif just totally makes sense! Experiment with different types of images to find what works for you and enhances your slides, course site or social media.