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Stock Images That Make Me Vomit

Well they don’t really make me vomit but like the ever fading use of clipart they do have some inherent issues. Whilst I do often use stock images in my both my own and client presentations we must be aware of the downside of using stock images. We must also be aware of what images can be used or changed to make your presentation slides stand out from the crowd.


One of the major problems with using stock images is that they are often overused. In other words we are starting to see the same images used over and over again across all mediums that use visuals including blog posts, social media and of course presentations.
The image below has been used to describe presentations that bore people to sleep. The issue is that this exact image is so common that if I see it again I think I will throw up. If you have seen the image anywhere else then it is likely that your audience will have too.

Avoid overused stock images like this.

Avoid overused stock images like this.


Stock images are often taken using models with fake expressions and poses to portray an emotion. The simple fact is that unless the emotion is being felt by the model at the time then of course the expression will look fake and it is.

Whilst most times the audience will not often directly know why the image does not look authentic but in their mind they will know that it is. Avoid cheesy images with fake expressions. There is no other way to describe images like the one below. Cheesy images just look…cheesy.

Cheesy images... well just look cheesy.

Cheesy images… well just look cheesy.

The Handshake

I am not the first to come down hard on the hand shake photo. The point is that you just do not get any cheesier or fake than this. How often do you think that two businessmen would find themselves in front of a globe to shake on a deal? Oh, and miraculously a photographer happens to be there to capture this momentous occasion. You just do not get any more fake or cheesy than this. The handshake/globe image is one to avoid at all costs.

It does not get any cheesier than this. Avoid at all costs.

It does not get any cheesier than this. Avoid at all costs.


Of course this post is not to have you turn away from stock images altogether. Image sites such as Istockphoto, Shutterstock, 123rf and many others have a great range of images for you to use. It can be tempting to use the first good image you have found under a simple search however bear in mind that many others are doing the same.

Get creative when using stock photo sites with cropping (you do not have to use the whole image) or combining images to create the visual you want. Avoid making your audience sick by using visuals that are likely to be seen anywhere else. You are unique and your presentation should be too.



Richard Hansen

Richard Hansen

Founder of Impact Presentations

Richard is a professional MC, presentation designer and coach and founder of Impact Presentations.

He is happily married with 3 children and currently lives on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in Queensland, Australia.

Loves trekking, camping, coffee and generally hanging out with friends and trying new experiences.

Richard’s personal website can be viewed here……