Stop using templates

Stop using slide templates. They reduce slide real estate, they are not effective at conveying the message you think they are conveying and they are visually distracting. It doesn’t matter that your boss insists on you using the corporate template or that everyone else does it if it doesn’t work. Stop using templates.

stop using templates

The number one complaint about “slides” is that “they are too busy.” Using the standard (!) Microsoft blue wave template (please don’t) the wave occupies the top of the slide and forces, for design purposes, a border on each side. With the addition of the standard “icon bar” across the bottom simple maths show that the available real estate has been reduced simply by using a template by nearly 40%. This makes everything smaller and thus “busier.”

stop using templates
ng templates

The suggestion that presentations should be branded with corporate identity is intriguing. Very few people can actually decipher the details of the icons used and even fewer remember them. Can you remember the institution of the last presentation you attended? If you can, is that one fact of the seven (plus or minus two) facts that is really essential to carry with you? Icons are not an effective copyright stamp on slides that people photograph and no-one can make them out anyway.

Icons and templates are themselves visually distracting. They adds conflict rather than clarity in a projected image and detract from the intended message. This may be exacerbated by the conference or virtual medium background. Good slide design positively impacts upon message transmission and retention. Templates and icons negatively impact every single slide.

The issues of “my chief insists” and “everyone else does it” don’t apply for racism, sexism or xenophobia. It shouldn’t apply in the use of templates either. Share with objectors the fact that templates doesn’t work and show your improved, completed deck. Don’t ask permission. Conference organisers may suggest or encourage the use of a template but I have never seen a presentation withdrawn when not using a template. If all this feels too much, use the template on the placeholder slide, (not your first slide) and whilst questions are being asked. Much more effective. You used the template.

Lastly, of course, you could approach a professional to help you. They understand design, they can discern the message you are trying to convey and they will help by designing something that will can deliver something that will ensure design consistency, clarity and form without the massive limitations that simply applying the Microsoftbluewavetimesnewromancentrejustifiedmultiple bulletpointsslidenumberdateandlocation templatehas to your supportive media. If you are doing this yourself, stop using templates.

Supportive media should add value to the message. Templates are counter-productive to that. They make slides more busy by reducing real estate. They don’t work as branding and they are educationally conflicting. Stop using templates.

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