The All-Powerful PowerPoint Template


There are a few designed brand touchpoints that always are a focus for professional services companies. What I’m seeing more and more is that PowerPoint (or Keynote) templates are leading the charge to rally troops, introducing new brand elements, and getting internal stakeholders on board with updates to a brand. I’ve done entire workshops with global Business Development teams discussing design, workflow, and brand perception, focused solely on PowerPoint.

Think about it. A PowerPoint template (PPT) is ubiquitous enough that it is used throughout the whole organization, yet redesigning them is often seen as a minor undertaking, which means budgets are easier to secure and kickoffs happen more quickly. Many heads of marketing or business development can get a PPT template project off the ground without getting executive committee approvals. The beauty is that a successful initiative here will helps rationalize future work and shows that they can achieve success.

I put PPT templates into two categories: a branded format and a standard presentation. Branded formats are simply a series of page types and graphic styles that help anyone format content. A standard presentation is a pre-designed deck such as a firm’s pitch deck. A pitch deck takes more preparation, as it likely needs a degree of design and storytelling, including a “first ten slides." An effective "first ten slides" tells your firm's story to prospects, partners, or recruits. It will help guide any presenter through the story of the firm, practice areas, or products/services, and the unique value that your firm provides to the market.

Your branded format and a standard presentation templates should help present content, not get in the way and be a sore spot for your staff. PPT templates should:

  • Position your brand accurately, using design and language that reflects your brand
  • Elevate content and engage audiences
  • Help your staff easily create presentations

To create either template, an audit of all content and designs from all offices will need to be conducted. You will also need to understand goals and prioritize objectives. I like to prioritize using a variation of the standard "Fast, Cheap, Good. Pick two.” decision exercise. Mine is called, "Fast. Flexible. Well-designed." 

“Fast” means that you want anyone at your firm to be able to start and finish a deck quickly. If “fast” comes out on top, then you may need more page types to cover more scenarios. You don’t want anyone spending an hour trying to figure out how to get five bios on a page when you only show them how to fit four. 

“Flexible” means that it is easy to customize for different types and amounts of content. For example, you may want to change your color palette to reflect a potential client’s colors. If “flexible” is most important, then you need to give everyone guidance on what pieces are flexible and which aren’t.

"Well-designed" means a template that best engages users and also reflects your brand attributes. If you are a prestigious firm, you want to look prestigious. If “well-designed” is most important, you may want some oversight or approval process for key presentations. 

Understanding this order of priority for both creators and requestors will help guide the creation of the most effective PowerPoint template.