The other day we wrote about a couple of key ways PowerPoint templates can make your life a lot easier. That’s not the same as saying they’re the right way to go every time. Sometimes, the result of a template-made deck is exactly what you don’t want.

For starters, let’s look at it this way: what is at the heart of any kind of “template”? Whether you’re a carpenter with templates for cutting out specific shapes, an accountant with pre-made forms to help your clients organize their tax documents, or a teacher with basic lesson plan outlines, templates are there to help us replicate things over and over and over again. That can help us do a better job when we expect to do a job over and over again, but that’s not a recipe for invention, innovation and customization.

For that level of service, we go to architects, consultants, and specialists. When we want something to be special, to truly stand out, we invest in individualized treatment. Sometimes this costs more, but we make these transactions all the time knowing that the uniqueness justifies the price.

Presentation templates are a great way to get the routine presentations done with a level of ease and consistency every time. That’s all. That’s why we say they’re perfect decks for later in the sales process, for internal use, and for other common but fairly low stakes pitches.

But for the average marketer, that’s just one small part of the prospect-client spectrum. Long before those template-style decks are being delivered, you need more vibrant content, eye-catching design, and specific formatting in order to capture attention and convert prospects to customers. A PowerPoint template makes a great follow-up sales deck, but a custom, professional deck makes more sense for your leading SlideShare presentation that people see when they visit your company’s LinkedIn page.

Additionally, that PowerPoint template doesn’t adapt very well to mobile or tablet displays, which often require specific configuration and content treatments in order to maintain relevancy.

So PowerPoint template can be great, but be sure to use them in the right context and at the right stage of your marketing-sales-account management funnel. When you really need to grab their attention, the template probably won’t cut it. You need a unique angle and story with design to match.

Question: How do you use presentations to capture attention?

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  • I love blowing up the screen with a large compelling image to reinforce a wordy slide. Working in the field of medical devices sometimes I'm lucky and get to pull up a gory image or two haha

  • slidehunter

    These are good objective points about the disadvantages of using PowerPoint templates. But I'd like to mention that sometimes the use of PowerPoint templates can ruin a presentation or affect the most important thing of a presentation that is to get the message. See, even with Prezi the result can be really awesome in terms of effects (zoom in, zoom out) and can delight an audience, but remember the goal is to convey a message to that audience. Using too much images, fancy animations and other decorations in a PowerPoint presentation can really make loss the point.

    I agree that for SlideShare and for example, showing a catchy image can highlight the presentation across the entire site, while the white slide background may be too boring, but it is important to focus that the template, images, graphics, etc. are just visual aids.


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