Should you use a PowerPoint template to spice up your presentation?

At my workplace we are compelled to use a corporate template, but I am guessing that a lot of you might have the freedom to create your presentation on any old background that you choose? If this is the case, you might be wondering if its a good idea to use a snazzy template to improve the look of your presentation and give it a bit of zing, or whether you should stick with something more conservative?

As usual, the answer is IT DEPENDS.

It depends on where and when you will be presenting and who will be in the audience. A very conservative audience will not necessarily be impressed if you come up with slides that look too different.  If you are selling an idea or a concept, you don’t want to antagonise or distance your audience. You don’t want to be too different from them or they will not trust you or what you have to say. My advice is to find out what they are accustomed to seeing and then deliver something vaguely similar, but better. What you want to achieve is for them to feel that you understand their world, but that you can offer a beter alternative or solution to their problems.

It also depends on whether your background is going to distract your audience from your key messages. Your key aim is clarity. This doesn’t change. Every audience needs to be able to understand what you are saying and you need to be as clear as possible about this. Cluttering up your slides with pretty but irrelevant backgrounds will not help and nor will it disguise a lack of content or poorly organised content.

If you have the luxury of choosing a background theme or template, I would suggest that you choose something subtle and appropriate. This can be achieved through a careful choice of colour and I’ll talk about this next week.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to share. If you are struggling with where to start or how to improve your presentations (or documents, as the same principles apply) please contact me.

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