Presentation Crash Course #5: Choosing the presentation background

by Improve Presentation
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(If you’re just joining the Weekly Presentation Crash Course by Improve Presentation, you might want to start at the beginning!)

We’ve all seen at least one presentation in our life with a fancy & exotic background. In it’s strange way that’s good for the presenter because we still remember it, but rather as a distraction than actual value adding design.

Choosing the background in Powerpoint 2013
Presentation backgrounds in Powerpoint 2013

Choosing presentation background might be tricky so we prepared couple of tips to help you out.

Slide Projectors

The most common mistake people usually make unveils itself when it’s too late to fix things. Your presentation is about to start, you hook up your computer to a slide projector or your presentation is launched from a different computer and suddenly you see that you’re doomed.

The background you’ve chosen looked great on your screen just seconds ago but now on the slide projector it looks totally different and unreadable. If you’re lucky you can quickly change your background and apply it to all slides hoping that the content will be readable but that’s not always the case.

LCD projector diagram by Cameron Christopher

Taking into account that presenting itself is usually not an easy task do not expose yourself to more nerves and please test your slides on the projector before the presentation itself. It will save you a lot of nerves. Remember that every projector is different and might display your slides slightly different way.

Company Templates

Your choices are limited if your company is using a standard branded template. This often means that you will have 1-3 different backgrounds at your disposal. In these kind of templates there is usually a light version and a dark version.

Going with the light version is always a safer bet in our opinion. Unfortunately typical company templates are often very boring and have very limited capabilities but we can’t change all the rules.

Bold vs. Safe

Sometimes a bold background with well chosen fonts and colors is just what you need. Example? Check out one of our presentation templates called The Red Carpet with bold red background.

TheRedPreview copy.001The Red Carpet Presentation Template

Sure – this template will not work for everybody but if it fits your company / style this kind of background definitely makes a statement and stands out. One of the safest ways is to go with the white background. White will always stay classy and create a good canvas & contrast for your content. Below you can find a nice example based on our Simple and Colorful Template.

Simple and Colorful Presentation TemplateSimple and Colorful Presentation Template


If we at Improve Presentation had to choose one background that we would have to use always – no matter what – it would probably be white.

Luckily we will never have to be in this position and we will always experiment with backgrounds in our templates and custom work. Don’t be afraid to try out new things but always remember about contrast and context and most importantly your audience!


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