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Use relevant photos

There is a trend in presentation design to use one full-screen graphic per slide. And the graphic has to be “high impact.” I have seen a number of slideshows where the presenter followed that rule, but the high-impact photos on the slides had nothing to do with the topic!

A problem with irrelevant images is that our minds are very visual so we are very attracted to the gorgeous or provocative photo. But our minds are also very practical, so they immediately start trying to place the photo into the context of the presentation topic. If there is no relevance, if the photo is completely random but gorgeous, our brains have to do a lot of processing to figure that out. Meanwhile you’re talking away and I’ve missed half of what you said, gaping in awe at your high-impact photo with the right side of my brain and trying to use the left-side of my brain to process what you’re talking about at the same time.

If you choose to use high-impact photos as your design theme, you need to use them throughout the slideshow. The point is not to use one or two terrific photos and then put a dozen bullet points on the slides in-between—you need to commit to the design concept throughout the deck, or not. One option is to use a high-impact (and relevant) photo to introduce each topic. You introduce the topic with this mind-grabbing image to get the audience in the mood, then carry on with your beautifully designed text-based slides. Or use a slice of that photo as a repetitive element on the succeeding slides. Whatever you choose, make it relevant.

A problem with using high-impact photos is that it can be difficult and time-consuming to get the perfect photo for each slide (assuming you’re not using random, irrelevant images). Even if you can get the images inexpensively at one of the resources mentioned in Chapter 15, it’s still time consuming.

Video and animated clips

This, of course, also applies to video clips in your presentation (see Chapter 5 regarding animation and transitions built within PowerPoint or Keynote). Don’t be misled into thinking I want to watch some indiscriminate YouTube video as filler or mere entertainment—I’m using valuable time to come to your presentation to get specific information. Use video, by all means! But please make it worth my time. Be able to put into words why that particular video clip is relevant to your presentation. If you can, then use it!

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