Making My Speakers Follow a PPT Template (part 2 of 3 on PPTs)
Maybe the real question is, “Should you require your speakers to use a PowerPoint template, or not?”
You can sit on the fence and debate this all day, but the right answer, of course, is do what works best for your event.
This is the second of three articles on managing and creating presentation slides (something you, your speakers or attendees can probably relate to).
Part one was on:
Avoid Speaker Handout Hassles
Part three will close with:
Great PPTs, Great Sessions, Happy Attendees!
So let me start with this. We work with hundreds of speaker presentations each month. I am connected to professional speakers. I attend conferences and have seen many presentations. I’ve been following topics like this on industry forums and I work with PowerPoint often and if you haven’t figured me out yet, I have an opinion.
Templates Suck the Creativity Out of Anything
Remember when we were 4 and given crayons and blank paper and told to draw… you’d come up with some really creative drawings. Then the institutions gave us templates and rules follow. Boring! Think about what your templates are going to do to your speakers… or do to your attendees.
Why do all the presentations need to look the same?
Let me guess, you want the attendees to associate a consistent, professional theme from your event with the presentation so when they refer back to handouts they’ll recall where they originally saw the speaker.
Gosh, I am hoping your event is better than that.
Maybe the best thing to provide your speakers with are tips to create engaging PPTs.
Okay, you didn’t buy that and I can understand reasons for providing templates.
The Argument (and tips) for Templates
Imagine a parking lot with no lines… Chaos! Sometimes people need guides and maybe your speakers need those rules and lines to follow because they got a D in art class. Perhaps you need to force speakers to have a disclosure slide in the presentation (as the second slide)… or a Q/A slide (at the end).
If you desire all your presentations to have a uniform and consistent look in line with your conference theme, you should create a template for your speakers or a set of guidelines to follow.
- Tip 1 – If you can get your templates in front of speakers early in the process (maybe when you accept them into your program), it’s easier for speakers to use that template.
- Tip 2 – If you are going to provide that template, avoid colored backgrounds. Imagine a really cool looking red gradient filling up the background. Now add non-transparent jpg’s (which is probably what all your speakers will be using). The presentation will look like it has a bunch of white band aids on it. Ugly.
- Tip 3 – Show them good and show them ugly. Your speakers will appreciate a really nice design using your templates. Pictures go a long way in describing anything.
What Speakers Think About Templates
One complaint I have heard from speakers is using a template may conflict with their slides and graphic scheme.
Another speaker cursed having to reformat their 72 slides from his format to the conference template. I totally agree. I’m pretty good with PowerPoint and switching templates easily creates an hour of adjusting each slide because fonts changed and words wrap on top of my graphics.
Do you really want your doctors or engineers formatting their PPTs? Not really. So maybe a concession would be to use a conference slide for the first and closing slides only.
What Would I Do?
- Toss the template in the trash and share one or two examples of a really cool PowerPoint for them to follow.
- Limit the number of words on any given slide to 10. It makes the speakers come up with creative slides and forces them to not read their slides when they present.
- Nix your conference logo on the PowerPoint as people sitting at your conference know it’s your conference. If you’re creating handouts in print, on CD or online, they’re already branded under your cover or web site.
- Help them be better presenters by giving them these speaking tips.
- Have the speakers submit a 2-4 page synopsis of their presentation for the on-site handouts so the attendees can have something useful to read as a takeaway during the event (at lunch tables, break areas) after the event (on the plane, in the office).
I’ll expand on point #5 above in a future article. Until then, Good luck!