What should a PowerPoint template do for you when it comes to presenting insights?

First, I’ll tell you what they can’t do.

A PowerPoint Template, no matter how good, will not design slides for you.

You can’t just dump an outline into it, and have gorgeous qual or quant slides pop out, ready to send to your client (yet!).

And anyone who tells you they have one that can is probably trying to sell you 🐍 🛢️1that’s “snake oil”, for those who don’t speak emoji..

What a great PowerPoint Template can do though, is cut the time you spend on slide by at least 25%, helping you get decks out the door faster, and making a direct impact on your bottom line.

As you may have noticed, Typical Templates do the exact opposite that—they’re costing you time and money the longer you try to make them work.

 

Because Typical PowerPoint Templates just weren’t made for people who do what we do.

person holding black umbrella during daytime headwind slidedesignr powerpoint template workshop

Whether it’s your company’s or your client’s corporate template, that was created by a designer or agency, or it’s one you downloaded because it looks cool, they have 3 major flaws:

  • 1

    They have a bunch of stuff you don’t need, and very few of the things you do. They’re filled with visual fluff, swooshes, useless placeholders, and other Imagejunk [random stuff taking up space on a slide that conveys little to no information], and come with few—if any—slides that you can use to visualize qual and quant data without having to spend hours customizing and reformatting them.

  • 2

    Then, because they aren’t designed to best practices, meaning, that like a buggy piece of software, they are functionally broken, they do weird, random things when you try to format slides.

  • 3

    Then, because of all of that, it’s hard to keep consistent look and feel, leading to your slides looking amateurish and unimpressive to your client.

 

So instead of focusing on crafting insights and visualizing them in the best way possible, Typical Templates make you or your employees spend late nights and weekends, just to crank out something that may be working against the way your company is perceived. They’re a headwind working against you.

 

 

So how can a well-designed PowerPoint template be a tailwind that has a direct return on investment?

brown airplane during daytime tailwind slidedesignr powerpoint template workshop

When it does these 9 things I’m going to tell you about in a minute, it should:

  • 1

    …make the time you spend in PowerPoint way more productive. Deadlines are short. A great template reduces the amount of time Insights Pros have to think about graphic design, and increases the amount of that time they spend on Insights while creating slides.

  • 2

    …save you hours by not being unpredictable, broken, buggy, and frustrating to use

  • 3

    ….help you produce consistently high quality decks for your clients

  • 4

    …and even help you be confident enough to make money by offering templates to your clients as a value-add.

 

A well-designed PowerPoint template should make creating impactful slides easier and faster, even if you’re not a designer or PowerPoint expert.

I call this the Ultimate Insights Template. It does 9 things that Typical Templates don’t…

…and it can happen with just a few small changes to your team’s deck creation workflow.

 

Pause. I’m teaching a 90 minute workshop on how to make an Ultimate Insights Template, step-by-step, from start to finish. If you want in, just register below.

Or, if you would rather partner with Vashte to create your PowerPoint Template for you, rather than learn to create it on your own, you can book a call here to discuss.

 

9 It minimizes branded graphics to maximize usable space for designing slides.

When it comes to templates for Insights decks, less is more. Way more! 2Yes, I am aware of the irony of saying “less is more” on the longest entry in this post. :)The fewer swooshes and swirlies and logos and stuff intruding onto the slide, the more impactful your slides will be.

It’s far more effective to create on a branded blank layout than it is to try forcing your insights into a template that has lots of graphics, and stuff.

  1. Maintaining whitespace around the margins of your slide helps reduce eye fatigue and makes your content easier to take in and understand.
  2. And this is major: Our content is so different from one research project to the next—sometimes we need to show charts, quotes, video, infographics, photos, and all the rest—imagine they’re like puzzle pieces. It’s all well and good if you’re just going to dump those puzzle pieces onto slides and write to some bullet points. You can do that in your typical template, and you’ll get typical results.But if you want to really provide value to our clients, you have to fit those puzzle pieces together into the Big Picture, so our clients can literally see what you’re saying.You have to look at the relationships between those individual puzzle pieces and synthesize a message from that relationship. Now you might say, I do that. That’s a Key Theme. And you’re correct.

 

But the next step is what’s critical, and just about no one does it.

You have to synthesize a visual framework that logically relates all of those relationships to each other. How do those 3, 4, 5 Key Themes relate to each other visually?

So the way we visualize that is obviously going to be unique from deck to deck, from project to project.

Therefore, content drives slide design. Not a template. Therefore, at Slidedesignr, we design from the content out, not the template in. Meaning, we never allow templates to limit how far we can push those ideas visually.

We’ll talk more about that, and how exactly to create those visual frameworks in an upcoming workshop, but I can tell you now that a few of the most powerful slides in my arsenal are this side tinted slide, and branded blank slide. For real. And I’ll be sharing them as bonuses if you sign up for the Template Workshop using the link below. For now, just remember—when you’re designing a template, less is more. way more.

 

8 It makes it easy for users to stay consistently on brand.

An Ultimate Insights Template can help reduce the amount of design decisions you have to make while creating slides. Wasting time wondering what color or fonts to use, what styles to use, not only does this result in randomness from deck to deck, it’s time people should be spending on visualizing insights, rather than spending hours checking Google Images for design inspiration.

The correct versions of all the stuff you need to brand slides should be packaged inside the template, not scattered about in random folders on your computer or the shared drive.

Even if your company doesn’t have a brand identity per se, this is still important. Even as a stopgap, come up with some consistent standard that captures the look and feel you want clients to experience.3Just please don’t use comic sans, or papyrus…

Your decks are your hard work and deep thinking made tangible. When you send them out into the world, they represent you (even if you’re using your client’s branding).

 

7 Its fonts look the same everywhere.

If you create a template with a font that someone then using the template doesn’t have, PowerPoint will substitute the font you chose with a font they do have, causing text to shift and resize. That’s why sometimes a template might look fine on Windows, but look funky on a Mac. Or vice versa.

There’s a lot to this, but, because, for the most part, we’re creating templates for teams with many possible combinations of operating system, versions of PowerPoint, and frankly, willingness to install or manage fonts, a great template uses licensed fonts that are common to both Mac and PC. And there are a lot more of them out there now than just Arial and Calibri. Here’s a great comprehensive list you can download now.

 

6 It has the layouts you team needs most—and none of the ones you don’t.

This is a big one. Some templates have like 200-300 layouts built in to it. While that might seem comprehensive, what that’s actually doing is just resulting in a file size so large, that people find it difficult to use and share. Most of those layouts will go unused. For the most part, people will choose a simpler layout over a more complex one.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to cover all your bases, it just means to get strategic about it.

 

Conduct a Slide Audit to see what kinds of slides are really needed.

Here’s how.

Look at a few of the team’s most recent decks.

  1. As you go along, make a list: What kinds of slides are used most often? What kinds do people seem to be struggling with? Make a note to include them in the template.
  2. With what kinds of slides do decks typically begin (Table of Contents? Agenda? Intro?) and end (Thank You? CTA? Logo?) add those to the list.

Then, put your qual researcher hat on, and interview members of the team you’re designing for. Speak to a wide range of people who work together, who report to them, and who they report to.

  1. Ask what kinds of presentations they make most often, for what purpose, and for what kinds of audiences.
  2. Ask what their pain points are with their current template. Which pains can you alleviate with your Ultimate Insights Template?

When I’m making this list of slides, I like to sketch out thumbnails for the slide types and layouts that come up. And as I’m creating those layouts, I can use this cheat sheet to be sure I’ve covered everything, and none of the team’s requests are falling through the cracks.

You can Download the Thumbnail Slide Sketch Sheet here.

 

 

5 It has placeholders, such as footers, slide numbers, and titles show up predictably, without random formatting issues.

An Ultimate Insights Template will never have you fighting with formatting issues, such as adjusting slide numbers, on every slide. Period.

Those formatting issues crop up because there are some quirks baked into the way PowerPoint works. And most people who design templates don’t understand PowerPoint deeply enough to know the best practices that would help them avoid those quirks.

The good news is, you can learn those best practices without becoming a PowerPoint expert if you’re willing to design templates in a methodical, step-by-step way, attention-to-details sorta way, which is something researchers are uniquely good at.

 

4 It helps make reusing slides from other decks easier, not harder.

And those best practices do something else for you. You know when you try to paste in a slide from another template, and everything goes crazy?

When you copy in a slide from a different template, PowerPoint looks for placeholders to map that slide’s content into. If they aren’t there, or if there’s an extra placeholder, that content may might end up in some random place, turn random colors, you name it. A nightmare that you have to manually fix, slide by slide.

AND, when you paste in a slide from another template, PowerPoint also pastes in that slide’s template. I’ve seen decks with 3, 4, 5 templates inside of it at once, and no one knew which was the right one to use.

An Ultimate Insights Template doesn’t have time for that. For the kinds of work we do, reusing slides from other decks should be as easy and fast as possible.

 

3 It’s managed so you can tell at a glance that you’re using and sharing the latest version.

You should be able to tell in seconds if you’re using and sharing the latest version, especially if you’re collaborating with others on slides.

People waste hours searching folders for the final final final version of the template.

After creating a template to best practices, only one person or a small team should have access to the .pptx file, which they should use to rollout new global changes to the .potx version of the template for the wider group to use. A .potx file is a PowerPoint template file no one can overwrite.

That .potx should be shared in a folder that’s easily accessible by team members who need it

And once they’re inside, the Slide Master should be clearly named with the brand and version date.

 

2 It has clear instructions on how it should be used so that anyone on the team can hit the ground running with it.

Did you know that you can put instructions right inside the template, so anyone using it sees them before they design a slide? You can add instructions on how to format text, charts, photos, just about anything.

People who join the team, or are using the template for the first time can hit the ground running without lengthy training, and make fewer mistakes leading to costly revisions.

 

1 It’s easy to include layouts for qual, quant, Capabilities, Proposals, and everything else you do, all in one template.

Because of the other 8 things an Ultimate Insights Template does, it lets you do this.

In a few short steps, you can reskin all the functionality built into your Ultimate Insights Template with the other kinds of documents you need to create. Your template can truly become a library containing the slides your company presents over and over again, saving you loads of time and potentially thousands of dollars in productivity.

 

And that’s how an Ultimate Insights Template can legit change your life.

 

Back over to you.

I’m teaching a 90 minute workshop on how to make an Ultimate Insights Template, step-by-step, from start to finish. If you want in, just register below.

And if you would rather partner with Vashte to create your PowerPoint Template for you, rather than learn to create it on your own, you can book a call here to discuss.

 

Published On: April 15th, 2024 / Categories: On PowerPoint, Process, Templates & Tools, Workshops /