A great presentation has got as little text as possible. Bullets are ‘death by powerpoint’. So what most presenters do, is create slide decks with a lot of images. And they are right. After all, an image says more than a 1,000 words.
Images can tell a story on its own. But more important: images can support what a speaker is talking about. I would argue that images beat text on a slide deck every time.
When building the deck, you need to find the images that work best. There is a lot you need to think about, one of them being: where do I find the images?
Of course, there are a lot of stock photo websites, full of images you can use. But which ones are any good? And which have free stock photos? Because for most images on the web, you need to pay royalties. After all, the photographer needs to make a living as well!
There are many speakers out there that don’t have the budget to buy high-quality images from stock photo websites. They need to look for a cheaper alternative. Which is when often they turn to Google Images. Unfortunately, most images found through Google also have copyright restrictions. You can’t use most images.
Finding royalty free images for a presentation isn’t as simple as it sounds!
Four great resources to find images
Fortunately, there are some good websites that offer great stock images to use in your slide decks. You only need to know how to find them. Below I’ve listed a few that offer great material. I’ve used them often! These websites offer a library of free images, in the creative commons public domain. That means you can use the images for free and you are in the clear.
First up is Pexels. Pexels.com is a search engine for “CC0 images”. This stands for “creative commons zero”. Meaning they are free. You can browse through the images as you go. Or choose one of the categories they picked for you, such as “holiday” or “water”. The best thing is the search engine which is prominent on the site. Type in a term and find related images. Be careful: they also show sponsored photos, these you do have to pay for!
Like all others, Unsplash shows a search bar on the front page. This will help you find the right images for your presentation. And when you do start searching, you will find some amazing images. They are some high-quality images there. Unsplash also offers some
Like the others, Freeimages.com offers a huge number of images to use for your presentations. Freeimages is somewhat easier to work with because of the way they structured the site. It has collections (categories). It has a search bar, but it also offers insight into what others use with ‘popular photos’ and editor’s picks. On Freeimages you can also search for photos made with a specific camera. And you can even search through pre-fabricated lightboxes.
One of my personal favourites is Pixabay.com. Pixabay does more than offer a set of great photos. It also has illustrations, vector graphics and even some videos. This makes it a resource where you will find what you are looking for. Another benefit is that you can search by filtering on size, orientation and even colour.
How to find the right image you need
The key to using these sites is knowing how to search. You need to understand what you are looking for and describe that well. Otherwise, you will find the stock photo that everyone uses. Don’t use the first picture you see, but browse around. Find comparable images and see which one fits best.
Finally a pro-tip. Look at the name and description of the images you like. Then do a search that mirrors that text, which will make that you find related images.
There are many more websites that offer free photos you can use in your slide decks. You only need to look for the right ones. The three mentioned above to me are the ones that I use most. They never fail in finding me the right image.
Of course, finding the image is one thing. The most important thing is to understand what to look for in a picture you use in a presentation. Don’t take any picture. Think about it. Use one that ads value to the deck.