How to Know When Gifs Are Appropriate to Use in Presentations

Today’s presentation standards have evolved with technology, and that’s a good thing. With so many options, techniques, and add-ons, it can be hard to strike the right balance. And if you’re presenting on a complex process, your slide deck might be rendered useless without the right approach. GIFs can add visual interest and humor to your presentation, but knowing when and how to use them matters.

1. To Engage Your Audience

Template-driven slide decks are boring, even if the information is revolutionary. Engage your audience with a GIF that animates an exciting visual like a demo of your latest software update. Use a screenshot app to record the experience on screen, make it a GIF, and save it. Then, insert the GIF into your presentation to bring your audience along the journey. Ensure your GIFs are consistent in quality so they are easy to view and enhance your message.

2. To Bring Humor into the Boardroom

GIFs are well-known for their comedic gold within text, group chats, or collaboration spaces. Consider the presentation topic, audience, and your company brand before browsing for the perfect GIF. Selective use of GIFs can lighten the mood and even build rapport, especially if it speaks to shared values or experiences. Assess your audience’s preferences, demographics, and potential sensitivities, too. Avoid offensive or potentially inappropriate GIFs and have a teammate review your presentation if you aren’t sure. 

3. As a Visual Aid

Explaining processes can be hard, and in a presentation, they can become so many slides that you lose your audience. Integrate GIFs to explain what an audience member might see if they interact with what you’re presenting. Show a new web navigation, back-end process, or reporting tool across one or more GIFs. Adding GIFs alongside photos, videos, and illustrations gives viewers much-needed variety and makes new concepts easier to understand. Sprinkle GIFs into the mix and keep your audience engaged and complement your verbal narrative.

4. To Teach

Clarify the steps, clicks, and caveats for those learning something new with a GIF. The looping nature of a GIF brings viewers through the steps and then back again, facilitating relearning. If you’re speaking and the GIF is running behind you, it can reinforce your words, layering communication styles. Use GIFs to train new employees during a presentation and make teaching GIFs available once they’re on the job. This can bring consistency to training, reducing the risk of incorrect training or shortcuts, which can be hard to unlearn.

5. When Presenting Virtually

Getting your audience’s attention in person is hard, but doing so virtually can feel impossible. Integrate GIFs that are relevant to your presentation in the situations already covered above, but use them elsewhere, too. Drop a GIF in the chat to engage virtual attendees, say hello, or convey a feeling. Add GIFs to respond to questions you’ve created on-demand of a tricky process. By customizing your response with a GIF, you can elevate your engagement and provide valuable resources to presentation attendees.

6. When Professionalism Allows

Assess your organization’s appetite for GIFs in relation to your role, presentation type, and audience. Most people may only think of GIFs that proliferate text threads, so assess the current use of video, too. How you’ll use a GIF in your presentation is more likely to be akin to video especially if you’re creating your own. Compare your presentation to those done by peers, vendors, and leadership to determine if GIFs suit your organization’s professionalism.

7. When Technology is Reliable

There’s nothing worse than embedding an element into your presentation that doesn’t work once you’re ready for the big reveal. Review the technology capabilities and reliability of your equipment, network, and venue. Discuss bandwidth needs, connectivity, and even file format with your technology team to make sure everything is covered.

If you’re presenting remotely, consider the channel you’re using. If it does well with video, GIFs may be suitable to add to your slides. For on-site presentations, ensure that your network needs are met and do a run-through to confirm your GIFs are functional.  

8. Solicit Feedback Before and After You Include GIFs

Prepare your presentation with plenty of time for peer review. Share your deck with a trusted colleague and ask for their candid feedback. Make sure they know who you’re presenting to and give them the background so they can have all the information. If there’s any question about the content or GIFs, consider revising your approach. 

After you give your presentation, request that attendees provide feedback by completing a survey. Add questions that solicit feedback regarding the visual components of your presentation, their effectiveness, and relevance. If your feedback is positive, use that information to inform future presentations using GIFs.

Choose GIFs that Enhance Your Message

Go beyond standard-issue bullet points and graphics and use GIFs to bring your message to life. Consider your audience, the level of professionalism, and your intent before researching or creating GIFs. Use them strategically so they can have the best impact possible and leave a lasting impression on your audience. Elevate your message, engage your audience, and take your presentations to the next level with GIFs.