Why not to use the Internet when gathering images for your PowerPoint presentations

Why not to use the Internet when gathering images for your PowerPoint presentations

Creating Powerful PowerPoint Graphics Using PowerPoint Drawing Tools

I’ve been working exclusively in the business of creating PowerPoint presentations for others since 2001. Over the course of the past 12 years I’ve learned that PowerPoint users get their graphics from several sources that have their pros and cons.
One of those sources is the Internet. So, why should we eliminate Internet images as a source of graphics for our PowerPoint presentations? Read on.

Oh my! I’ll bet every single client that I’ve worked with over the past 12 years has lifted at least one image from the Internet for use in their presentations. Admittedly, I did quite a bit of that in my early days as a PowerPoint presentation designer, not understanding the limitations and potential consequences of using this “free” resource.

Usage Rights
Many of the images that we find online have been purchased by others for use in their marketing materials. That means, when you copy their image, you are breaking usage right laws because you have not paid for the right to use that image in your – or your clients’ – materials. Doing so at the very least, violates basic ethics codes, and at those most, it could get you into a ton of legal hurt.

If you don’t understand how image sizing works in PowerPoint, the image that you lift from the Internet may be too small – it’s not scalable. That means when you enlarge it to meet your needs on a slide, the images will become very pixilated and appear blurry.

My business colleagues have heard me tell this story more than once, but if usage rights and lack of image quality don’t hold you back from lifting images from the Internet, perhaps the fear of potential surprises may.

As often happens, a client provided me with several slides with content that needed to be cleaned up. One slide featured several logos to help her demonstrate that each of the companies represented carried a certain brand “feel.” One of those logos was the Land O’ Lakes logo – you know, the one with the American Indian woman sitting on her knees holding a box of butter in outstretched arms. As is habit for me, I viewed each slide in Slide Show View (View > Slide Show) to catch any animation that the client included in the slides. I found that our Land O’ Lakes logo was in animated gif format. To my surprise, someone had used Photoshop to edit the logo, copied a section of the woman’s knees and placed them “behind” the box of butter. The would-be prankster then animated the front of the box to flip up, revealing what appeared to be the woman’s breasts. Look at the logo here Land O’ Lakes logo and use your imagination to envision the result. I hate to think what would have happened if this client had not sent the slides to me first for cleanup.

So what’s the option to lifting slides from the Internet? Well, you could purchase images from a stock photo source like iStockphoto or Bigstockphoto to ensure that you’ve paid for the correct usage. Even then, these photos might not be perfect and you’ll find the need for photo editing – and that brings up a whole new can of worms — like expensive photo editing software and skill (or lack thereof).

On the other hand, you could simply use PowerPoint’s built in drawing tools. It is my promise that, over the course of the next numerous blog entries, I will help you to learn how to leverage these tools to design amazing high-quality graphics that are free, editable and scalable.