My company, Ethos3, recently had the privilege of creating a presentation template for Merchant Solutions. As you will see below, we opted for nine template slides. These nine slides are the essential foundation to any solid presentation template.
This is the first slide (and can possibly be utilized as your last) of your presentation. Generally, it will include your logo and the name of your presentation. Some people often want to include the speaker name and title on the front page. This is fine but it is best to keep it simple instead of adding a lot of text. They say first impressions are everything, and this slide will be the first thing that your audience views. This means that you want it to be interesting and appealing.
Tip: On SlideShare, the title slide is your best tool for getting attention and attracting viewers. Make your title slide as visually engaging as possible. Text-only title slides should be avoided at all costs.
The agenda slide may not be necessary for every occasion but that’s the great thing about creating your template slides. If you don’t need one then you can delete it. The agenda slide is normally used if you are speaking at a conference and there are many different topics or activities that you are going to be covering during your presentation and you need to segment them.
Tip: Use the agenda slide sparingly since it can overwhelm an audience, especially if you have a lot of content to cover. If you choose to use the agenda slide, edit your content carefully so that only the most important parts of your deck are highlighted on your agenda.
The content-only slide is one of your main body slides. This slide can be utilized when you have a bulk of copy and not really any charts or pictures to support it. Now, just because you have a slide that is built for content doesn’t mean that you should fill the slide with five paragraphs in 8-point type. Even if the content is great, no one will read it.
Tip: The content-only slide is valuable because it is a solution for content that is difficult to pair with visuals. However, this is another slide that should be used cautiously. Don’t become over reliant on the content-only slide because it lacks the visual elements that make a presentation memorable.
Content with Photos Slide
This slide will give you the chance to use photographs with your content. We have all seen the templates that have block text with a random, tiny stock photo in the corner. Remove that paradigm right now. Make sure that when you have a photo on your slide that it supports your idea and fills the screen completely (or at least a majority of it) when possible with minimal text.
Tip: Edit your content, and then edit it again when utilizing the content and photo slide. Try to use as few words as possible on this slide. The image should be the star of this slide, so select a photo that is captivating and meaningful.
Blank Background Slide
This slide is basically a designed background slide with nothing else on it. This slide can be used for a video, content, chart, graphs, or photos. It will essentially allow you to customize on-the-go.
Tip: This will probably be your least-used template slide because it usually requires a lot of effort to complete. It is still however an important part of any template because it helps you maintain consistency of style, while also offering you the freedom to be creative.
Section Break Slide
You can use this slide as a break for your mind and your eyes. The section break slide should have very few words and is often utilized to separate main ideas, sections or talking points.
Tip: I happen to be a big fan of section break slides. Breaking your message into sections makes your content easier to follow. Use section break slides to signal the end of one section, and the beginning of another.
This slide can be used for important quotes or call outs. When you have a point that you really want to drive home, this is the slide to utilize.
Tip: Since quotes are always a hit with audiences, use obscure quotes that are relevant to your topic. Aim for small quotes to reduce the amount of text that will be on the screen.
This slide is for charts and graphs. When building out your template it’s important that you establish what your graphs will look like when on screen. What colors will you use? What size will the type be? You need to make sure that all your charts are consistent. Also, don’t shove all your charts on one slide. Use this template slide multiple times to make sure that each one of you graphs is the main focus of the slide. If you need text with the chart, make sure that it is only the most important information.
Tip: Charts and graphs are a challenge when using a template because the most interesting charts and graphs are customized for the data being represented. If you can express data without using charts and graph, do so. If not, then the charts and graphs slide is designed so that your data visualization will at least match the style of the rest of your deck.
This slide will be useful when you are highlighting product images or showcasing different service offerings. You can put the photo on the slide and speak to it instead of having the words displayed on the screen.
Tip: Photos are powerful. Fill the entire slide with a high-res image that supports your message. Use photo-only slides frequently to break up your content.
If you are putting together a presentation template right now, these are the slides I would recommend as your starting point. They should give you all the freedom and flexibility you need to win over any audience.
Scott Schwertly is the author of How to Be a Presentation God and CEO of Ethos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki. If Scott is not working with his team building presentations, you will find him in the pool, on the bike, or on a long run. Scott lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and three dogs. He has a B.A. and M.B.A. from Harding University. Find Scott on Google+.