The Temptation of Templates

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Are you the kind who sees the word “template” and runs screaming in the opposite direction? The kind who believes that everything must be invented from scratch to be brilliant?

Our reaction to both these positions/questions is this:

i) Some templates are indeed scream-worthy, but many are not

ii) Sometimes working creatively within an existing framework shaped by professionals can yield results better than amateurish inventions

And so, because we care about these things, and about how it feels when you are tempted to templatize but not quite sure if that’s okay, here are a few learnings from our own experience as creators of expressive presentations.

  1. KNOW WHERE TO LOOK: You may have had a bad experience with the old boring templates, which explains your hesitation, but have you looked beyond? Some very inspiring and creative templates are available out there, either free, or for a very reasonable fee. So don’t just broaden your search – deepen it.
  2. KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE: Having an aesthetic preference that suits your subject matter or point of presentation can only be a big help when searching. Do your prefer photos with striking typography? Or would you rather have a background with nature motifs? Neon or pastels? Geometric style or fluid? These may seem like concepts – until you see them in action! Remember, if you like what you see – so will your ultimate audience.
  3. KNOW WHY IT FITS: This is a matter of matching form to function. Will a casual doodle-based template suit a formal presentation to heads of state (or government agencies)? Maybe not. Will graph-heavy templates go down well with kids or young adults while educating them on health and safety? Is a sumptuous spread of colors and moods the right pick for a pitch asking for funds to rehabilitate a drought-stricken community – or would something stark and hard-hitting work better? There is no one-size-fits-all approach in choosing templates. If you understand your objective and target audience well, you will recognize which template fits best and why.
  4. KNOW HOW TO TWEAK: This is for us the most interesting – and challenging – part of working with (and within) templates! There may be so many others using the exact same template – but what can make yours different is simply YOU. Your ability to create, experiment and innovate within the template. With the broad strokes already in place – you can spend more time and energy getting the fine print and details right. In other words, you have more room to get your presentation pitch-perfect. 

In conclusion, far from constraining or confining your presentation abilities, a template – well-chosen and aptly applied – can liberate and bring out your own best presenter!