More Killer Tips on PowerPoint Templates and Backgrounds

This is the second time you are making a presentation to the same group. The guy yawning  in the back of the room has perked up. The woman gazing at her nails looks up once or twice. At least this is an improvement. Last time she only looked at you in the beginning, after three minutes she was back to her nails.

But you notice another person that keeps looking at your slides. He looks at the slides, then he looks at his notes, then he looks at the slides again. You’re not sure what he’s doing but there is one thing you’re sure, he’s  not listening to you.

What gives? You did what was important. You designed your PowerPoint presentation and you followed the formula correctly. (A recent blog I wrote Two Killer Tips for PowerPoint Presentations outlines this recommended formula.)

Is there anything else you can do to make your PowerPoint presentation more effective? Is there a way to design your PowerPoint slides to create greater interest in your presentation? Is there a way to make them look more professional? Absolutely. In addition to your personal presentation style there are many visual factors that contribute to the effectiveness of your PowerPoint presentation.

Keep Them Listening to You

No matter how animated you are and how much you engage your audience at some point during your presentation they will  look at your slides. And when they look at your slides you need to make them as clear as possible so they can look quickly and get back to listening to you. How do you make your slides clear and quickly comprehensible.

Don’t let PowerPoint Templates Drive Your Content

Many businesses have a corporate PowerPoint template which you must use. In this case you don’t have any choice

But if you have flexibility to choose your own design, you may feel you should use PowerPoint templates to look professional. You are not the only who feels this way. Many people scan through the designs in PowerPoint templates to find the one they like best or if they want to be different they search on the web for that perfect PowerPoint design.

The danger with PowerPoint templates is the template starts to drive the content. It may be the size of the font, it may be the colours, it may be the format on the page. You may not be able to include charts the way you would like, insert a table or even add photos.

As you start working through the template you find you have to modify your content to fit the template. It doesn’t make sense to sacrifice the content of your presentation to fit the format of the design template.

You can change the format of the template to fit your requirements. But when you make changes to the template format the template loses its integrity since it is a departure from its design. Once the template loses integrity it  degrades each time you deviate from its boundaries. Every time it is degraded you lose the cohesiveness of your presentation and the clarity of your slide.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should never use PowerPoint templates.

When used properly, PowerPoint  templates make it easy to format your material. They are consiste nt in look and feeland provide a theme to your presentation.

Three Words on PowerPoint Backgrounds

Here’s my thought on backgrounds. Don’t use them.

You might be surprised that I am taking such a hard line stance. The truth is you look like an amateur when your PowerPoint background colour is dark and your text is a colour. It is difficult to read yellow on a black background, yellow on a blue background or even worse red on a black background and your presentation is a toner hog to print.

When you think of your PowerPoint background colour think of Google or any of the search engines. The majority of the text is black on a white background. That’s what people see every day. Any other colour is a departure from the norm.

And in this case you want to be the norm. Don’t fight it. Keep your text black on a white background. Use colour sparingly.

Use PowerPoint Templates and Backgrounds with Care

PowerPoint templates and backgrounds can work for you but choose carefully. Don’t let them drive the content of your presentation. Form follows function (Louis Sullivan) function doesn’t follow form.

Remember you want that guy who keeps glancing up and down at your slides to absorb the material quickly so he can get back to focus on you.