The 8 Worst Mistakes with Slide Templates and How to Avoid Them


Us design and marketing folk are pretty particular about how things look. You know, fonts, colors, white space and what have you. Salespeople, not so much. Which is okay, of course, we don’t spend our days thinking about sales strategies either. While sales operations, sales development, sales enablement or whatever your organization calls it is responsible for the sales content that’s out there, we’re usually responsible for how it looks.

Sometimes sales enablement people create the content first and marketing folks just make it pretty. Which is great. But strategies and selling techniques are living things and often there’s a need for slide templates on which salespeople can build their contents. This article is all about making those templates, so that salespeople can create their materials without worrying about how it’ll look.

So, what are the worst mistakes you can make when creating templates for sales materials and how can you avoid them?

1. No Margins

When you’re positioning elements like text boxes and images, make sure nothing is too close to the edges. When stuff goes all the way to the edges of the screen, it doesn’t just look unprofessional, it could even get cropped out entirely. Especially if there’s a projector involved, there’s a good chance some of that slide will never be seen by a customer.

Try this: Position everything so that there’s a good 5-10% of the whole slide’s height and width between the edges and your content.

2. Not enough contrast

You can’t make a good argument if your customers can’t read it. It’s very simple. Dark text on a light background or light text on a dark background.

When in doubt, just use black and white. You can’t go wrong with those.

3. Wrong image resolutions

If your background image is pixelated because you stretched a small resolution image to fill the whole slide, it will look embarrassingly amateurish. Same goes for all images. But what doesn’t get talked about enough is images that are too large. Trust me, that does happen sometimes. If you’re resizing your 6000 by 4000-pixel image in your slide in PowerPoint, that presentation will have an enormous file size and load very slowly.

A good rule of thumb is to use backgrounds that are close to Full HD resolution (1920x1080 pixels) and other images that are between 500 and 1000 pixels on either side. You should have sufficiently sharp images without having your laptop hyperventilate in front of the customer.

4. The fonts are too small

Try this: put your slides up on your laptop screen and take five steps back. Is everything still readable? If not, the fonts are too small for presenting. If the slides are for reading (i.e. they’re sent to customers, not presented in meetings) then it’s okay to have smaller text, but if they’re for presenting in front of people, they need to be perfectly readable even if they’re pretty far away.

Pro tip: If the text is too small on a slide, it’s probably because there’s too much of it. So, on a template, if you set font sizes too small, users will try to fill the slide with that small text. It’s always better to have less stuff on more slides instead of more stuff on fewer slides.

5. Animations

Just… no. If you have videos or bespoke animations, that’s great. Just don’t put any transitions or other types of animations in your slide templates. You don’t know how exactly the slides are going to be used or how it’s all going to look in use. There’s a very good change it will look extremely unprofessional.

6. No consistency

You have a brand. Maybe your company paid a pretty penny to an ad agency to design brand guidelines. Stick to them. Use your brand colors, the correct logo image and the right fonts.

For images, here’s a good test: if you’re using illustrations, put them next to each other to see whether they’re made in the same style at all. Same goes for graphs. I know it can feel like a vague or even an obvious statement, but just make sure your templates look like they become in the same family.

7. Too many options

Think about the different use cases for your templates. Make one, or at most two, templates for each use. One cover slide template, one text slide template, one image slide template and so on. This kind of relates to the previous point, since if you offer people too many options with slide templates, you risk consistency going out the window. If you tell people to paint in red and blue, but you give them the whole palette, someone’s going to make that canvas brown.

So, limit the number of templates to one per use case, maybe with two different alignment options, like text on the left, image on the right and text on the right, image on the left.

8. Image aspect ratios not locked

This is specific. Depending on the kinds of templates you make there may be some images already in there for the users.

Try it out yourself. Can you stretch the image in a way that breaks the aspect ratio and makes everything all squishy? If yes, try to see if you can lock the aspect ratio, so that your users won’t be able to make the same mistake.

That’s eight. That should be enough rules-of-thumb to get you through the process of making good slide templates for your sales team to use. If you want to talk more about presenting and about enabling your sales team with the right content at the right time, don’t hesitate to book a call with one of our sales enablement specialists or try Salesframe for free for 30 days, no strings attached!

Mikko Oittinen, Creative
+358 44 271 5515