The Skillful Use of Images

The soul never thinks without an image.
— Aristotle

When images are used skillfully, they can increase interest and participation, excite creativity, stir emotions and memories, provoke questions and uncover common ideas. There are two approaches to using images in presentations: the image as an illustration and the interactive image. In this blog, we will discuss the image as an illustration.

By understanding the subtle differences between the two approaches, when Persuading for Results, you can select the most suitable approach, to maximise the persuasive effect. The method you choose will depend on the presentation style you choose, how much time you have to prepare and present, the size of your audience, the format of the presentation and how courageous you are.

Courage may seem like an unusual word to use. However, in persuasion people often prefer to use either logic or emotion. Those who prefer logic may not see an obvious reason why images are powerful persuaders. However, research shows that images trigger emotions and emotions trigger a different part of the brain to logical arguments. Maximising the impact of the persuasion.

When you understand the power of this concept, you will see that the most persuasive discussion in a one on one situation or a group meeting is when you combine logic with emotion. It touches everyone on the planet.

The image as illustration

Often an image is chosen by the presenter to illustrate and reinforce their words. The image may be a photograph that shows a situation or a new product. Or the image might intensify the meaning of your words. For example, a photograph of a wrinkled, grey-haired man may appear on the screen as the presenter says, “As we grow old, our need for …”

With these examples, the audience is simply a passive viewer of the image. The presenter applies the meaning and the audience scrutinises the image for evidence of that meaning. The degree of persuasion depends on how clearly the image illustrates the point, so the Persuasive Presenter will ensure the image is almost a mirror of the verbal message.

To find good photographs, try typing “free stock photos” into your Google search. You can get ideas for photos by using Google Image search, simply type in a word and you will get a diverse set of pictures. Remember to check whether the licensing allows you to use the photographs.

Professional sites where you can pay for photographs include:

While it is tempting to use Microsoft photographs, some of the images are becoming visual clichés: the handshake, passing the baton, group of business people, call centre operator, the globe, light bulb and chess pieces.

To persuade for results, take the time to find fresh and interesting images to support your messages.