• Use Creative Commons license images to spice up your presentation
  • Use watermark-free photos to eliminate visual distractions
  • Select small to mid-size images to keep the file size manageable
You’ve seen this presentation mistake countless times. And in fact, you’ve been guilty of it too on some rare occasions.

Up there, on the screen, you see the slide. It’s nothing but a widescreen page full of paragraphs. It’s just a huge fuckin’ wall of text in barely readable font size.

Is the clueless executive really expecting the audience to actually read this?

Is this a book or a presentation?

Every Powerpoint slide is going to have some amount of text. It’s unavoidable. But, you’re not going to be the kind of presenter that just packs each slide to the outer margins with words.

Nope, you’re aiming to be better than that and more creative too.

You want to spruce up your slides with some relevant images that will really help to get your point across or at the very least, make things more interesting so that it draws in and keeps your audience’s attention.

You don’t want this to be one of those sucky premeetings.

The challenge is that it’s tough to find good quality and relevant photos for your presentation deck that isn’t copyrighted or have some kind of watermark on them.

It’s time to up your presentation game.

Types Of Images You Should Know About

There are different types of “free” images out there and they all have slightly different ways of offering free-to-use photos.

Don’t get too caught up in the differences though. Just know that you can use all these types in your presentation without any issue.

This is just more of a good-to-know kinda thing.

Public Domain
Things categorized as “public domain” are anything that was previously copyrighted but now the copyright has expired. It can also include any works that were funded and/or created by the public.

In either case, the work has no exclusive intellectual property rights and isn’t owned by any person or entity. It is now available to the public as a whole.

These are things like old books, classical music, etc.
Creative Commons
This is a non-profit organization that created standards for providing copyright-free works for everyone to use and share easily.

There are six levels of copyright-free works from Creative Commons. All of them allow you to use the work. The differences are in the permissions. You only have to worry about the permissions if you’re using the works in a public way. Otherwise, if you’re only using the images for internal purposes, then any of the types will work.

The one that is totally free to use in any scenario without any attribution or credits is the CC0 or Creative Commons Zero. This means that the work can be used in any way without any limitations.

This one is a bit misleading because it makes you think that it’s copyright-free and free to use. However, it’s a bit more complex.

Royalty-free doesn’t mean it’s copyright-free. It just means that you don’t need to pay ongoing royalties or fees to the creator or the entity that has the copyright on it. However, in many cases, you do have to make a one-time payment.

For your company presentations, don’t use this kind of resource. You don’t need to be spending your hard-earned side hustle money for work-related presentations. There are a ton of free images elsewhere.

Google Search
Google is the defacto standard for any kind of searching on the internet. This includes searching for images. In fact, Google provides a link to “images” for every search you request. It’s the second tab link after “All” on the results page.

As mentioned several times, if you’re only using these images for internal purposes, then use any image you want from Google search. It’s not like you’re planning to put the deck on the web or commercialize it.

Just make sure that the image doesn’t have any watermarks or ads on them.

Copyright-Free and Watermark-Free Photo Sources

Let’s be honest here. Using copyrighted images for your quarterly update presentation isn’t going to get you in trouble. If you’ve found the perfect image that supports your idea or message, then go with it.

The images that you shouldn’t use are the ones that have those annoying digital watermarks on them. These watermarks are like semi-transparent markings or words that are placed on the image for copyright protection.

Using watermarked images just makes your presentation look shallow and lazy kinda like using stupid ass business cliches. What you need are clean, good resolution images without those bullshit watermarks.

These top five websites provide just that. These are the best sources for free high-quality images that don’t have watermarks and are copyright-free CC0 images.

Important note - using high-resolution images will make your Powerpoint file size really big, so choose small size images to keep the file size manageable and thus emailable. You don’t want to be that pain-in-the-ass coworker that makes unemailable files.

1) Pixabay

Pixabay was one of the first websites that consolidated copyright-free and royalty-free images into an easy-to-search database using keywords. Today, they’ve got over two million high-quality media that you can use.

They’ve expanded their database to include videos, music, illustrations and even sound effects. There’s so much that it can be overwhelming. So, use the keyword search to simplify your search.

And for shits-n-giggles, you can click on “Explore” and see recommendations, popular items, editor’s picks, etc.

2) Pexels

This is a great website that has the same look-n-feel as Pixabay. The one difference is that Pexels doesn’t require any email signup. It’s just a simple and quick search and download.

What you’ll notice is that there are some of the same photos on both sites. It looks like they kinda share sometimes.

Pexels doesn’t have vectors, illustrations or sound effects, but they make up for that with more variety of photos and videos across many categories.

3) PxHere

PxHere is the third of the trio of easy-to-search copyright-free photo databases. You can see the resemblance of this website to the previous two mentioned above.

This site is focused on CC0 images only. There are no videos, animations, music or sounds. It’s just straight-up photos. It’s a good alternate source if you can’t find an ideal one in the other two above.

In fact, the team here at Cubicle Therapy uses these three image sources for our website. You might even spot a few familiar ones during your search.

4) Unsplash

Unsplash started out as a Tumblr thing - remember that blog?

Today, it’s all grown up and is its own website. The site offers high-resolution artistic images like expansive landscapes, soft portraits, abstract imagery, etc. Much of the photos are contributed by professional photographers around the world.

You can find some absolutely stunning images on this site, many of which are ideal for desktop wallpapers (a great way to manage work stress) or as a whole slide background image for your presentation.

5) Wikimedia Commons

You’ve used Wikipedia before as an encyclopedia resource. Well, Wikimedia Commons is part of the Wikipedia family.

Take that same idea from Wikipedia and apply it to copyright-free works and that’s what you get with Wikimedia Commons. All of the photos and images here are also available under the Creative Commons license.

What you’ll notice with Wikimedia is that they don’t have as many photos and images that could be useful for your presentations. Most of the content is more for reference purposes. So, if you’ve got something that scientific, medical or engineering based, this can be a great resource.

Find Perfect Photos For Your Kickass Presentation

You put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into your presentation. All of the core content is there. There are no grammar or spelling mistakes. And, all of the numbers are spot on.

But, it’s just bland and you can’t stand for that because you want this deck to shine, pop and be engaging. You don’t want it to be just another boring, stupid meeting with a wall of paragraphs and bar charts.

You want to make it look its best. After all, it's a reflection of your standards and this presentation can be just the thing to boost your personal brand at the office.

With the help of some perfect photos, you can give your audience an eyeful that will enhance your message. Whether it’s a subtle background, related supporting photo or a leading image to get your point across, you can find the perfect one using one or a combination of the sites mentioned above.

Now, get in the zone, go find some great images, put them in your deck and kick ass in your presentation!

Feel Better,

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