To use a slide template or not??


Last week for my presentation to the Dallas .NET User’s Group I chose to use a blank slide template.  That is plain black text on a white slide.  My theory was that this simplification made the content of the presentation more clear.  With less cool graphics to get lost in the audience is able to focus on the content more easily.  

 

I was in the middle of pulling together another deck when I accidentally applied a theme (one from last year’s PDC)… and I hate to say, the deck looks “cooler” and more professional.  

 

So my I am torn.  Should I go with a blank slide template or use “cool” side template for the rest of the “road show”?

Comments (26)

  1. Lonnie McCullough says:

    Definitely use the cool template. Looking at large collections of B&W slides bores me and causes the whole presentation to blend into one long B&W slide and I tend not to remember specifics ( if anything ).

  2. Dilip says:

    I disagree with the first commenter. No point fluffing the slides in pursuit of some vague definition of ‘coolness’. When we come to your presentations we come for substance. In the DDNUG meeting I didn’t even notice that you had a plain white/black combo.

  3. Steve Hall says:

    There’s one thing you need to remember (aside from coolness) when choosing a theme: visibility.

    If it’s a dark-background theme, then that would be preferable as it’s easier to read from further back. Black-on-white is difficult to read from the back of many rooms due to lack of contrast, more difficulty in focusing the projector, and additional glare caused by the additional white light. This gets worse for those who are near-sighted wearing glasses. (Remember, a large number of programmers are near-sighted, partially due to sitting in front of monitors all day long…)

    For a small audience and a short presentation (<1 hr) then it probably doesn’t matter much. But for 2 hour, half-day or all-day events (e.g., MSDN events, PDC, etc.), then it becomes important to prevent eye strain.

    It also depends upon the ambient room lighting. If you’re in a conference room with the overhead lights on, then black-on-white is ok. A larger room with the lights out or dimmed, white-on-black is better.

  4. Atlas says:

    People are emotional beings–yes, even programmers. If you instinctively felt an attraction to the version of your slide that had the cool graphics on it, then I would listen to your instincts. Logic would tell you that quality of the message is all that is needed to get your point across. In this case, logic is wrong. *Everyone* is influenced by these psychological forces, even the people who don’t realize it.

  5. Like applications, cool but visible is number one. As Don Box said at http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=31792, the slides defocus from the actual content. As long as we stay clear of the 2D meta files, like bombs and people that look dorky, we’ll enjoy the show and take away what we should.

  6. Ian Ringrose says:

    When a set of slide is posted to the web, no template should be used. All logos etc should be removed. That way the size of the file is reduced to be as small as possible.

  7. The recorded presentation is a relatively small screen. Any kind of fancy template would simply distract. If you scale down images, they will look ugly, so what’s the point? 😉

  8. Jonathan Allen says:

    I like simple, high-contrast colors like yellow lettering on a blue background. It makes it easier to read.

    I don’t care about background images one way or another, so long as they can be easily ignored.

  9. PeterNZ says:

    Has anyone ever thought about doing a presentation without any slides? I know, it’s way outside the box. But .. what do slides do for your presentation? The audience reads the slides in the first couple of seconds you change to a new slide and is distracted from what you prsesent. This can take up to over one minute with complex slides or lots of text. This means: The Audience is not listening to you during tis time! If you have 10 slides, this adds up to almost 5 to 10 minutes the audience is not focussed on you and what you say!

    So what do presenters usually do during this seconds/minutes? They read aloud what’s on the slides. I hate this! It makes me sleepy.

    Do you really need slides?

    It’s just a thought. And I know, it is a revolutionary one. Everybody just expects slides at a presentation. But if you think of it …

    Cheers

    Peter

  10. Martin says:

    Functionality trumps aesthetics, but you can have both. As Steve Hall said above, plain black on white is actually quite hard on the eyes.

    Remember the "Pournelle feature" in Word? That’s the white on blue text display mode that you can still find in Word 2003, under options/general. Jerry asked Chris Peters for the feature for screen readability.

  11. Martin says:

    Functionality trumps aesthetics, but you can have both. As Steve Hall said above, plain black on white is actually quite hard on the eyes.

    Remember the "Pournelle feature" in Word? That’s the white on blue text display mode that you can still find in Word 2003, under options/general. Jerry asked Chris Peters for the feature for screen readability.

  12. Martin says:

    seems to be an echo in here… I got an ASP.NET error the first time I posted. Can you delete the duplicate?

  13. Jeff Atwood says:

    Your presentation needs more cowbell!

    I’ll be at your upcoming RTP Trinug presentation, and I’m bringing all the (many) NC State graduates I work with. Usually NC State produces nothing but mediocre software engineers, but there’s always that one exception that proves the rule…

  14. Consider NOT using it…

    Check out http://www.beyondbullets.com

    This guy has changed the way I think about PowerPoint.

  15. PeterNZ says:

    Thank you Scott. I am honoured that you agree with me.

  16. Cool template, but not one of those templates that everyone else who uses POwerpoint uses. Blue gradient with those freaky stick-like figures that look like early Sims concept art is almost as boring as B&W

  17. wade says:

    "Cool" is one thing and "professional" is another. Templates don’t necessarily add anything to the content, and can definitely detract if they are not professional-looking.

    A template sends a definite message/impression to the audience about the speaker and the importance they place on their presentation. It’s about as important has how you dress for your presentation.

  18. Raj Tripathi says:

    During the presentation of Visual Studio .NET in Moscow, Don Box used

    “Microsoft Visual” Notepad instead of Power Point.

    He just launch notepad and start typing the topics :) That was awesome!

  19. Go look at the stuff at http://www.beyondbullets.com. Cliff also has a blog where he gives some great ideas…and has recently completed a book by the same name, available from MS Press.

  20. web says:

    Minimum graphs and the correspondence to standard!

    http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http://www.ddnug.net/

    This page is not Valid HTML 4.0 Transitional!

    Errors: 137

    HTML 4.0 Very old standard.

    HTML 4.0 Specification W3C Recommendation, revised on 24-Apr-1998

    I use XHTML 1.0 example of my site. http://www.webosoft.net/

  21. SBC says:

    Tufte – the Yale Prof has some strong words regarding PowerPoint in a Wired article:

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/ppt2.html

    I recall his prior books about information presentation, notably the concept of "chart junk" but overall, he emphasizes the importance of keeping the audience in mind & respecting them.

  22. SBC says:

    Tufte – the Yale Prof has some strong words regarding PowerPoint in a Wired article:

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/ppt2.html

    I recall his prior books about information presentation, notably the concept of "chart junk" but overall, he emphasizes the importance of keeping the audience in mind & respecting them.

  23. greg says:

    nothing worse than white bacgroung full of small black text ….unless it’s for 1 slide only