Ampro Super Stylist 16mm sound movie projectorCommunicating an idea is a prerequisite for any profession. Often enough, this communication occurs by way of delivering a presentation. Some presentations may happen in front of large groups, others might take place in more private settings. In my experience, I’ve found a couple truths. First, understand what you’re being asked to present, and second, do whatever it takes to become a subject-matter expert. On a side-note, if you’re looking to dive deeper into the art of presentation, here’s a short list of books I recommend:

In the real estate practice, agents often share Buyer or Listing Presentations with prospective clients. Because these types of presentations and delivery styles vary greatly, there’s no set format. The presentation might be a printed  stack of paper, slides on an iPad, or even a PDF on display at a web-based meeting center.

I’ve found most presenters rely on presentation software such as Microsoft’s PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote. While both are fantastic, neither are in today’s spotlight. Today I’d like to share some of my favorite auxiliary design tools that lift my slides to the next level. I hope you find value in these free tools.


Presenting is about communicating an idea or telling a story. The right photo, whether abstract or representational, can connect the audience to your message at a deeper level. I often place a full-screen image as the background of a given slide to reinforce the words coming out of my mouth. Sometimes I might tamper with the photo to strengthen whatever idea the image is meant to impart. For instance, I might…

  • – place (limited) text over the image.
  • – cover the image with a matching, semi-transparent tint of color for the sake of branding.
  • – add a slow zooming-in effect to make the photo more captivating.
  • – insert a symbol or graphic to coordinate with the image.

Regardless of the design tricks I incorporate onto my slides, I rely heavily on images to help convey my message.

Compfight, which works in conjunction with Flickr, is a powerful search engine for finding free stock photos. Some of the photos are classified as creative commons, while others are in the public domain. Websites like ShutterStock and iStockPhoto run precise searches and are chopped full of amazing photography (additionally, they offer illustrations and videos), but they can be on the pricey side. My primary criticism of Compfight pertains to the accuracy of its search function. Having said that, it does provide some filter tools to improve the relevancy of its search results. So, if the results seem unrelated to my search term, I might search by “tags” only, instead of searching by all text associated with a particular image. I can also filter by a particular license type. For instance, some photos require attribution, whereas others are free-and-clear with no need to give attribution. Whatever the case, it’s crucial to understand the essential qualities of a photo’s license before using it. So, once I’ve found an image, I simply pick the right dimensions and press download. It’s super easy!

As a bonus, Compfight offers a free WordPress Plugin that integrates with your WordPress site for an easily inserted, properly attributed photo to support the theme of your blog post.


Symbols—like photos—help brace your message. Imagine how replacing three bullet-points with three symbols would simplify your slide as well as add some design flair. What’s more, a symbol can pass along an idea without using up words on your audience. You know, people can only comprehend so many words in one setting, so I make it a goal to be extremely sparing with how many get used on my slide-deck.

While symbols are awesome, not everyone has the graphic design skills necessary to create them from scratch. No worries, The Noun Project is brimming with well-designed icons and symbols ready for use. Really, just about any kind of symbol one might imagine is waiting to be found. Some icons charge a flat fee for download (e.g. $1.99), others are free so long as credit is given to the designer and some are in the public domain. However, The Noun Project has an obvious congenital flaw: the files can only be downloaded as in an SVG format and in black, which is extremely limited. Fortunately, The Noun Project created The PNG Project, an extension that can be installed with Chrome, Safari or Firefox. The PNG Project, once installed with your browser, works seamlessly with The Noun Project and enables you to choose the dimensions of the subject symbol for download as well as a custom color—let’s say orchid, for instance.

Word to the wise, don’t spend an exorbitant amount of wading through the near endless choices.


There’s a ton of commentary floating around online as to which fonts one should use. While opinions vary, some fonts clearly add swagger to a presentation while others strip it away. DaFont is an extensive archive of freely downloadable fonts. Like the other tools listed above, each font may be downloaded subject to its license. A given license may fall in the public domain or may require attribution or a donation be given to its author. Some fonts restrict the type of use, such as for non-commercial use only. Bottom line, it’s important to read and understand the license before using the font.

In addition to a sizeable selection, DaFont also provides some practical search capabilities. For instance, you can filter DaFont’s search options by a particular license (although you should still read any documentation the author provides to fully understand the permissions associated with a given font). If you have a particular word in mind, simply type it in the “custom preview” box located in the filter toolbar and you can preview how each font looks with it. It also sorts its fonts into categories, which makes finding the right font much more practical.

(Primary Photo by Carbon Arc via Compfight)

Jason Pantana, Realtor, Speaker, NashvilleJason guides real estate professionals through current and emerging trends in consumer behavior, sales and marketing, and entrepreneurship. To invite Jason to speak or to schedule a consultation, visit: