I try to use visual elements like icons and stock images in my presentations to convey messages without the need for words whenever I make a presentation for work, teaching or speaking at events. I like the words I speak to be most of the words you perceive while I am speaking. My talks are both in English and Spanish, and recurring to visuals also saves me a lot of time in translations and makes it easy to reuse slides and to even improvise a talk in a new language without losing too much of the meaning in translation.
I have received compliments for my presentation on a few occasions and I suspect icons and images have contributed largely to people enjoying my slides. This is why I have decided to share my secret with you, so that you too know where to find the best icons and stock pictures for your presentations.
Unsplash is a site made by Squarespace where profesional and amateur photographers can contribute content free of rights. You can search this collection using keywords and access It is free to use Unsplash and you don’t need to credit the artist (although the site encourages for it and it’s a nice thing to do).
Since the pictures are free of rights – including the right to modify the images – people all around the world are using images from unsplash to do their own creative pieces, from websites to collages. You can see some of these creations at https://madewith.unsplash.com/
The noun project
The noun project is the equivalent to Unsplash in icons – or shall I say the reverse? I have been using The noun project since 2015 and paying the premium for ages. This lets me download vector icons on any colour I want to without paying any extra fees for the license and with rights to use images forever.
I like to use icons both when I present and when I prepare documentation. I find icons useful in network diagrams, in customer journey visualizations, in user personas… Icons can communicate more than words and are easier to remember, they take less space and don’t need to be translated from one language to another.
This slide represents the most popular uses of voice interfaces. If I would have written a list of bullet points, would you have noticed so quickly that playing games is a popular use of smart speakers?
Icons in The noun project go from super simple to beautiful 2D images. Below are a few images that I use to express the context of use of conversational interfaces:
Icons and stock images can help your presentations and work deliverables shine. Start using Unsplash and The noun project to access a large collection of graphical resources you can use to communicate your message better.
The Noun Project recently added stock pictures you can use for free in standard quality and mentioning the author, or in high quality and without credentials for very decent prices.
I recently discovered Lordicon and fell in love with it. This platform has lots of animated icons & illustrations for your websites and presentations and I am sure you will fall in love with it too!