I really like slides with a solid background, usually white or black. Why?
- They’re neat and clean. They don’t distract from the message.
- Obviously, they’re easy to create.
- They work better with images. For example, you can remove the background of images and get a result like this. (The flames didn’t show up against a white background.)
I took the original image, removed the background using PowerPoint 2010’s Remove Background feature. (See instructions here.) Then I applied a solid dark blue background.
If I had an image or even a gradient background, this image wouldn’t look as good.
Many photos are “isolated,” meaning that they have a white background. These photos look great on a white slide background.
But what about the first slide?
The first slide is different. You want it to include your branding, such as a logo or banner. It should also look more designed, which means it should have some color. Yes, you can put a great photo on the first slide, but I often feel that that isn’t enough.
Maybe you like this look, but here is what I like to do.
What is the difference?
I’ve added the banner from my website (www.ellenfinkelstein.com).
I’ve added a subtle gradient to the background of the slide. I used color picker/eyedropper software to exactly match the background from my website. I use ColorPic, which is free. I used that color for the top of my gradient. Then I used a lighter blue for the bottom.
To create a gradient background,
- Right-click off the slide and choose Format Background.
- Choose the Fill category.
- Choose the Gradient option.
- Follow the instructions in my post, “Create multi-color gradients in PowerPoint,” for exact instructions.
When you create the gradient, experiment with different directions, by choosing options from the Direction drop-down list. Some directions might look better to you than others.
I made the image smaller so it didn’t interfere with the title. Title slides need to have a certain amount of text on them, so you need space for it.
For more information on creating your own background, see my background page. There, you can sign up for a free e-book on the topic.
Another reason for having a first slide that’s different from the rest is that this treatment distinguishes the first slide form the content slides. This helps the audience understand the structure of your presentation.
I also added a thin rectangle above the presentation title that goes from 0% transparency to 100% transparency. You can set the transparency in the Format Shape dialog box; just right-click the shape and choose Format Shape. The purpose is to set off the website banner from the title of the presentation.
I can then copy this slide and use it as the last slide as well.
What do you do for your first slide? Please leave a comment!