A major part of holding on to your audience’s attention during a presentation is to have an engaging powerpoint, and one of the most important elements of a strong presentation is starting out with a solid PowerPoint template.

Although Microsoft Office offers a wide range of powerpoint templates to choose from, they tend to be very generic and are used very frequently, lacking the element of originality. Whether you are preparing a presentation for a new product release, or simply to present your company metrics to a team, you need to ensure that the information you are showcasing is done so in an engaging and creative manner.

The first slide must demand attention

You’re probably aware of the importance of first impressions. When most people go on a first date, they spend a lot of time thinking about how to wow their date. They might dress a little better than usual, spend more money than they typically would and engage in conversation with a bit more enthusiasm than normal. Why do people do this? Because they want to make an impression that lasts.

The same thing goes when standing before an audience full of individuals who are judging every aspect of your presentation. You might be a great speaker, but if your PowerPoint is full of badly edited images and cheesy animations, the chances of being taken seriously are low.

Take a look at this popular first slide:


If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen someone use a title image like the one above, well, I’d certainly have at least a dollar! Seriously, is there anything about this slide that makes you want to see the rest of the presentation? No, because it’s boring and plain. There isn’t even a hint as to what the presentation is about. No images, no obvious thematic choice. There is a clear lack of thought and care that goes into a presentation that starts with this template design.

Your opening slide should answer one very important question for your audience:

What should they expect from your presentation?

Naturally your title will give some hint towards what kind of content they should be expecting, but the overall theme will dictate whether that content will be engaging.

Now take a look at this powerpoint template from Slidemodel:

swot template

What you can determine from just this slide is:

The content:

We know the presentation is going to be about SWOT analysis.

The outline/format:

There’s a clear breakdown of the elements of SWOT and they are presented in an easy to follow grid.

The method:

The layout clearly demonstrates that the method for the presentation will be a step-by-step guide for SWOT analysis.

If your first slide doesn’t give your audience a heads up of what to expect, there’s a good chance you will lose them before the presentation even starts.

Keep your presentation concise and consistent

I remember when I was completing my Master’s degree, there was a student in one of my classes who did a PowerPoint presentation for our business class. It was clear he had done a lot of research because each one of his slides was packed with information. They were all very text heavy and each topic he discussed went on for more than 3 slides. Needless to say, I barely retained any information from the presentation.

The purpose of your presentation should be to:

  • Amplify your message
  • Accelerate information absorption
  • Assist comprehension and hence faster decision-making

If your slides contain too much information, you will bore people. Instead, think of each slide as a mini infographic. An infographic contains one to two key data points, a visual representation such as an icon, chart or pictogram to represent those data points, and that’s it. If you don’t have the design skills to make an infographic, you can use an online infographic maker to help you or find a source that offers powerpoint templates with visual elements that will enhance your presentation. The point is, you need to include the main point that you want your audience to take away from your presentation. Don’t just copy and paste your speech onto your template. Furthermore, by adding visual representations of your points, you double the chances of retention. Afterall, 65% of the population are visual learners, so it’s to your benefit to cater your presentations to the majority.

Final words

In order to create an engaging powerpoint template and presentation, you need to be able to cater to your audience’s needs and desires. Your goal as a presenter should be to leave your audience with a better understanding of the subject you are showcasing. Don’t leave them itching to run out the door.