Written reports and presentations should always include images. Beyond just charts and graphs, photographs or drawings increase the relevancy of the material to the audience and make the report more engaging.
Images engage a viewer in ways that text cannot. People want to look at pictures, whether they are photographs or data visualisations. When choosing images, keep these criteria in mind:
Reports and slideshows benefit from realism. Clip art is generally viewed as cliché. But not all illustrations are bad. Drawings and cartoons can impart a more relaxed tone to a presentation, for example. High quality digital illustrations and icons can boost a report. Strive for imagery that conveys professionalism. Photographs are excellent aides for a report or a slideshow, but similarly, avoid cheesy stock photos.
To the extent possible, try to identify imagery that will closely relate to your content. For example, a presentation on evaluation findings of an environmental project could include images of the project location, before and after intervention. Images of a globe or a turtle on a beach would not be as relevant. Generic imagery tends to be viewed as annoying, at worst, or glossed over, at best.
One of the most common mistakes in evaluation reporting is making the imagery too small. Whether it is a photograph or a data visualisation, viewers will want to look at it, so make it large. The busier the image, the larger it should be. Because images need to consume so much space, it works best to isolate a single image per page or slide. If multiple images need to be shown in a slideshow, try to show one at a time.
Tell a Story
The images one uses throughout a reporting option should work together to tell a story. For example, you can repeat one picture three times and alter the colour of one picture to represent 1/3. Imagery should fit within one overarching theme. An evaluation report on an exercise program might include several pictures of different people who are all in motion, for example. Together, the pictures tell a story.
Shutterstock: Stock photo sites like this one require payment for photos, but the fee also ensures higher quality, more relevant photos. Look for “Same Model” or other works by the same photographer to find a set of photos with the same look and feel to them.
Flickr: This site allows you to browse and search for photos captured by other people. The majority of the photos are high quality, however you may need to filter your search by a creative commons license to use the photos with attribution.
The Managing and Sharing Data report: Created by the UK: Data Archive, this report uses large graphics within the report to signal the start of a new section and applies consistent icons to identify case studies.
The report on Monitoring Government Agencies: Introduces a set of symbols that are repeated throughout the report, uses a strong graphic to show a recap of key points, and applies a tab to the side of each page indicating the chapter number to let the reader scroll easily to a new chapter.