Powerpoint Hacks – Easy Ways to Add Images

The difference between planners and our colleagues in the design professions is never more evident than when it comes time to give a presentation. Architects and designers have presentations filled with inspiring images, whereas planners tend to … shall we say … over use the text.

Adding some images to your presentations is not too difficult – find out how in this post. We cover three basic ways to add an image or two to your slides.

Where to get images from

Firstly, where to get the images from? Never pull some images from the web that you are not licensed to use, as it is too easy these days for copyright owners to find out. Even if you are not publishing your presentation on line, your audience may share a pic of your presentation – so you want to do it right.

The best option is to use your own photos or stock photos. This blog offers a list of stock photo providers (I haven’t reviewed these all so check whichever your choose meets your requirements). Always check the license for any conditions such as needing to include an attribution or types of media you can use it on. A good stock photo site will make the use conditions easily understandable. 

The key to incorporating images is preparation. Do not wait until you are working on a presentation. When you have some downtime, choose 5-10 stock images and save them. Choose generic images on theme with what you normally present about. If you are doing catchment planning, get some pics of streams, vegetation and even stormwater infrastructure. If you are in transport planning get some stock shots of transport environments with mixed modes or whatever suits your speciality.

The other option is to use Powerpoint’s icons. These aren’t as effective as images, but icons and a bit of colour can be better than just words. You can try icons with option 2 below, they look good in SmartArt graphics.

How to incorporate the images

Let’s use a simple slide presenting the RMA definition of “water” to illustrate how images can be incorporated in three different ways.

1. Insert Picture or insert a shape filled with a picture

insert shape or picture

Using the Insert tab, you can insert a picture – instructions here. You can play around with the look of this by changing the size of the shape or by changing the geometric shape of the box. Try Powerpoint’s Design Ideas for some other ways to format the picture.

Another option is to insert a shape and then fill it with an image. Instructions here.  In the example above, I have inserted a shape, duplicated it twice more (click on the shape and then press Ctrl-D), positioned the shapes (Powerpoint shows guide lines to place shapes evenly) and put an image in each (as per method in link above).

2. In a SmartArt graphic

insert smartart

SmartArt is a template you insert in your slide to create a visually appealing graphic. It is a simple and effective way to visually display information such as lists. You just put in your text and the graphic design is done for you. Some SmartArt graphics come pre-formatted for including images, such as the one in the example above. Learn how to add a picture to your SmartArt graphic here.

3. As a Background Image

insert background

You can add a picture as the background to the whole slide. Learn how here. A tip is to adjust the transparency so the image appears faded out. This adds interest to the slide but without overpowering the words you are displaying. In the example above, I have added a white (partly transparent) background to the text box to ensure the words are clear.

This last one is the most simple of the three, and if you haven’t tried adding images before, it is a great place to start.

Happy presenting!

This post is part of the How-to June series, so subscribe to the blog to see more How-To’s and hacks.

Let me know if you are interested in more advanced Powerpoint hacks.

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