Most people don’t look forward to giving presentations. Usually, it’s thrust upon them by a boss or professor. Even if you don’t like to give presentations, you’ll probably need them to grow your career or business.
Luckily, you can use Microsoft PowerPoint to prepare a presentation deck that supports you. The PowerPoint slide deck is just one part of your presentation. But it’s an important part that’ll help you drive your point to your audience. Using a PowerPoint template is a major advantage.
So, why is it important to design a professional PowerPoint presentation? What I’ve found is that when I’ve got confidence in the look of my slide, I’ve got confidence in the presentation itself. And using PowerPoint templates builds that confidence.
In this tutorial, I share some of my favorite tips for designing a professional presentation. Use these tips to build presentations that you feel confident in. Let’s dive in.
What Is a Microsoft PowerPoint PPT Template
Are you wondering, “what is a template in PowerPoint?” Without a PowerPoint template, you’d start with the empty white screen you see when you first open the app.
Instead of starting with this blank canvas, use a PowerPoint template. PowerPoint templates are well-developed presentation designs. They already have the slides laid out and prepared. Using PowerPoint templates helps you skip ahead in the design process.
The best source to help you start using PowerPoint templates is Envato Elements. A single subscription gives you unlimited access to using PowerPoint templates from the library. Using a PowerPoint template is a common approach by professional presenters.
In addition to the best PowerPoint templates, you’ll also unlock:
- stock photos to complement your presentation
- graphics and illustrations to help you explain and show advanced concepts
- fancy fonts that help your presentation stand out from the crowd
Using a PowerPoint template gives you ideas for your presentation. Instead of spending time drawing a presentation from scratch, you can use a template. The answer to “what is a template in PowerPoint?” is that they’re the best tool to save time.
Learn more about how to use PPT templates in the article below:
Content: The Center of All Design
When you think about PowerPoint design, you might be thinking of the color scheme or typography of a presentation. In fact, good PowerPoint design begins by deciding on the content. Using a PowerPoint template supplements the content later.
If you don’t know what to say and show to an audience, how can you know what fonts and graphics to use? Here are the simple steps and tips I use for writing my content:
- Decide what type of presentation you want to give. I think about the key presentation categories as persuasive, informational, decision-driven, and introductory.
- Create a thesis statement around which your entire presentation will revolve. For example, “The goal of this presentation is to persuade the audience to register to vote in the upcoming election.”
- Write a basic outline that captures the key points that your presentation will make. Each point can correspond to a slide in the presentation.
- Create supporting points that tie back to your thesis statement. Ensure that each slide is related to the goal you set at the beginning.
Here’s a tip to save some time: use Word to write your outline and then import it quickly into PowerPoint.
In Word, simply start typing an outline as a numbered list. Keep this outline super simple, with only the key points showing:
Next up, jump over to PowerPoint and make sure that you’re working on the Home tab on PowerPoint’s ribbon. Click on the New Slide dropdown. Then choose Slides from Outline:
Now, browse to your Microsoft Word outline and open it from the pop-up window to import the outline:
PowerPoint sets up one slide per outline point. This is a great way to skip the work of re-typing your key points in two separate apps.
Now that the content is somewhat setup, we can start thinking about design. And using a PowerPoint template is the top advantage for professional presenters.
Key Parts of Slide Design
PowerPoint is stacked with features. So, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do when it comes to building a PowerPoint design. There are themes, styles, layouts, and more. All these are bound together by using a PowerPoint template.
Let’s learn more about the key parts of PowerPoint’s design so that you control exactly the part that you’re interested in.
Themes: Elements for Success
To access PowerPoint’s themes, switch to the Design tab. You’ll see thumbnails in the upper left that allow you to choose a look and feel for the presentation:
PowerPoint has built-in themes. But there are far better options than the built-in themes that Microsoft includes.
Not too long ago, Envato launched an all-you-can download service called Envato Elements. I recently started subscribing to Elements. I’ve found it to be useful for all my creative projects.
Here’s how it works: Elements is a subscription service. Right now, there are more than 400,000 digital assets that anyone with a subscription can download. Instead of licensing (and paying for) each individual asset, Elements takes the buffet model for digital assets.
What do those digital assets include? Well, most useful to us in this tutorial are the over 700 PowerPoint themes that we can use for our own presentation:
These PowerPoint themes are the perfect starting point for building a presentation. Each presentation deck comes with many slide designs. I use these slide designs and drop my own content into them instead of drawing new slides from scratch.
In this tutorial, we’re going to use the Volt PowerPoint theme that’s available as part of an Elements subscription. This is a professional, clean presentation theme. Use it for your own presentations:
Envato continues to add more files to Elements constantly. Besides the PowerPoint themes, there are plenty of other tools that you can use to build a presentation, such as:
- Stock photos. Instead of paying for each individual image that you use in your presentation, an Elements subscription lets you pay a fixed monthly fee.
- Graphics. Grabbing something like an infographic or image you can use as clipart is a major upgrade over the built-in PowerPoint assets.
- Background images. As part of the stock image category, you could grab images that are somewhat minimalist to use as backgrounds for your slides.
One key point about Elements: even if you stop subscribing to it, you can continue to use all the assets you downloaded while you had a subscription. Each time that you download a file, you’ll enter a license usage for the file to help you track that you’re using files responsibly.
Layouts are arrangements of placeholders on a PowerPoint slide. PowerPoint works with a series of content boxes that you can add as a starter for your slide:
To set a layout for slide, go to the Home tab. Click Layout and choose a thumbnail to set the placeholder boxes for your slide.
Color Schemes (Variants)
One way to overhaul the look of a presentation quickly is to use the same theme. But use a different variant, which is a set of colors and typography:
On the same Design tab, choose a different variant to change all the slides in your presentation at the same time.
Building a Business Case
Let’s use the Volt theme to create a PowerPoint presentation. We’ll walk through building a presentation using the theme so that you can get some ideas on how to build a presentation of your own using a starter theme.
For this presentation, we’re going to use a business example. Let’s pretend that we’re going to update a team on the status of a project using this slide deck.
1. Introduce the Project
For project updates, these types of slides are often called “executive summaries.” You’ll provide a concise summary on the background of the project:
For this, I’m using Volt Slide design 98, a simple slide design with a headline and text box. In fact, I’ll save the key points about my project for speaking points instead of objects on the slide. Remember that the slide doesn’t have to include every detail. Sometimes a simple slide is a better backdrop to your key information.
2. Share the Project Timeline
As part of the background for your project, it helps to explain the history behind it.
For these occasions, a timeline slide is the best way to connect the past to the future. In the example below, I used slide design 28 as the blueprint for a timeline slide:
Keep in mind that you could combine a slide like this with an icon set from Elements to add some style to the presentation. You could easily grab social icons or a graphic to supplement the design.
3. Present Key Decision Points
Decision points would include the key paths that your team has chosen along the way. For this, I’ve used slide design 86 which includes an image grid and text boxes to explain the choices made thus far:
This is a general-purpose slide that allows you to work in team photos that enhance your slides. Don’t forget that Elements includes stock photos.
4. Provide a Recommendation
If you’re leading a project and presenting to decision-makers, they’ll want to hear a recommendation for the path forward on the project.
I’m going to use slide design 105 for this purpose. The built-in theme graphic is a laptop on your slide. But I grabbed a printer icon from Elements that’s related to my presentation:
There are many points on this slide that you can use to reinforce your point. Use the sorting points on the edge of this slide to help the audience understand why this is the right option for the project going forward.
5. Ask for Feedback
If you’re sharing your project with an audience, ask for feedback if you’ve got other experts in the room:
Many slide designs would work for this purpose. In this case, I’m going to use design number 119, and a simple headline to ask for feedback. If you’re giving a presentation to the public, use contact detail placeholders to make it easy to get in touch. This design has them ready to use.
Building this slide deck highlights how versatile the Volt PowerPoint theme is. We used it to show off the progress of our business project. But there are many other scenarios that Volt would work great for. These premium themes are perfect for a wide variety of presentations thanks to the litany of slide designs in each package.
5 Quick PowerPoint Presentation Design Tips
As you’re learning how to use a PowerPoint template, it helps to have design tips. These will help you master the app and create your best slides yet.
In this section, let’s learn design tips that teach you how to use a PowerPoint template effectively.
1. Use Device Mockups
This tip might not apply to everyone, but many designers are pitching a startup or web app. And in that case, a killer tip for using a PowerPoint template is to try out a device mockup.
In the screenshot below from Volt, you’ll see a device mockup with an app in a web browser. Slides like these help your potential users imagine using the app.
2. Use Image-Heavy Slides
Audiences love visual presentations. With the help of images and graphics, you’re sure to cut through the noise of most boring presentations. It’s another reason to join Envato Elements, thanks to the included stock photo and graphic library.
Whenever possible, include photos and graphics to enhance your slide. Whether you use them as a background or as a featured image, it adds so much to a slide.
3. Try Out Charts and Graphs
If you’re a numbers-focused professional, it’s doubly important you learn how to use a PowerPoint template. That’s because they feature charts and graphs that make data understandable.
Data is good. Throwing too much data at your audience is not. With the help of a chart, data is easy to read and review. Using PowerPoint templates with charts is the best way to show and share your data.
4. Start With Slide Layouts
As you’re learning how to use a PowerPoint template, don’t miss out on layouts. In PowerPoint, the layout is the pre-built set of elements that fill your slide. Choose a layout, add your content, and you’re finished in no time flat.
Learn how to use PPT template slide layouts in the tutorial below:
5. Use Infographics Heavily
One of my favorite tips for using PowerPoint templates is to seek out the infographic slides. The word “infographic” explains it all: it combines information and graphics. Instead of text-heavy slides, you can create eye-catching illustrations with infographics.
Take the slide example below. It’s slide 53 in Volt, the featured template from Envato Elements. It could really enhance a simple, three bullet slide. The puzzle cards stand out from the crowd of boring, flat slide designs.
Find More Great PowerPoint Templates: 5 Top Designs
Using a PowerPoint template is a major advantage. And in this section, I’ll show you five of my favorite templates from Envato Elements.
When you’re learning how to use a PowerPoint template, turn to the options below. They’re all professionally polished and ready for your content. Learn how to use PPT templates with these great designs.
1. The X Note
Time and time again, The X Note finds its way onto lists of the best PowerPoint templates. Using a PowerPoint template like this one is sure to help your design stand out from the crowd. 40 beautiful slide designs with four color schemes are more than you’ll ever need while using a PowerPoint template like The X Note.
Targeted at a budding TV series or movie, this template shows you how deep the Elements library is. Using a PowerPoint template like this is easy thanks to the image placeholders. Open it. Add your stock photos and graphics. You’ve built a beautiful presentation!
This template has 45 slides, each with something different to offer your presentation. Using a PowerPoint template with deep variety is helpful so that you can always present your ideas. Bolo is perfect and has over 50 color schemes that are easy to apply.
When you’re learning how to use PPT templates, it helps to have ideas of what a template should include. Look for templates like Wixa that have beautiful infographics that you can use to explain ideas. Those combine images and easy-to-update text placeholders for advanced presentations.
Stylish and minimal, this PPT template is perfect for a modern presentation. Using PowerPoint templates that match your brand is important. The Production House template would be perfect for high fashion brands, for example.
We’re just scratching the surface of using a PowerPoint template with these five choices. For even more options, check out some of my favorite articles below:
Learn More About Using Microsoft PowerPoint
When you start with the blank slate of a new PowerPoint slide, it’s hard to know how to get started with designing it. The tips in this tutorial are simple and effective steps that can help you get started with your own slide designs.
To keep learning, check out the Ultimate Guide to the Best PPT. This round-up has pretty much everything you could ask for when you want to learn how to build a presentation.
Tuts+ has an extensive selection of PowerPoint learning resources. These tutorials are a combination of soft and technical skills that can help you build proficiency. You’ll see how to use PowerPoint as a presentation aid that gives you confidence in each of these tutorials.
Check Out Our New Free Online Presentation Guide
Do you want to learn even more about making great PowerPoint presentations? We’ve got the resource for you! We’ll take you through the complete process to get you ready for your next business presentation—from start to finish.
Don’t miss our new free online presentation guide, The Complete Guide to Making Great Business Presentations in 2019. It’s chock full of powerful business presentation advice to help you make your next business presentation your best yet.
Design an Awesome Presentation Today
You’ve just learned how to use PowerPoint templates to design presentations. You might have started this article wondering, “What is a template in PowerPoint?”, but you’re sure to see their power now.
With the help of this article, you’ve seen that using a PowerPoint template saves hours of design work. It also leaves you with the best finished presentation. You saw that using PowerPoint templates from Envato Elements is an unmatched value.
Why not get started on your next presentation today? Download your favorite PPT template.
Editorial Note: This tutorial was originally published in November of 2017. It’s been updated to include new information—with special assistance from Andrew Childress.