Custom PowerPoint template: build presentations, fuss-free.

7 minute read

A custom PowerPoint template could be just what your whole team needs to be able to build on-brand, consistent presentations in house, without fuss or frustration. We’ve created this article to help you better understand the ins and outs. And we’ll even teach you to build one yourself. 

Did you know that most people tasked with delivering presentations spend over 50 hours every month building them? Just building. That figure doesn’t even cover all the time spent getting to know your audience, the research, the travel, the actual delivery, or all the follow up. There’s no denying the importance of presentations when it comes to getting your big ideas out into the world. But – unless you have a team who are solely focused on building presentations – we’re sure your people have other responsibilities and tasks to spend their time on.

If only there was some kind of framework for presentations. If only all the design features were already in place. And if only all that you had to do, to build beautiful presentations, was add text and images…

You’re looking for a custom PowerPoint template

Think of a PowerPoint template as your presentation blueprint. A framework, forming the backbone of all your future presentations. A tool to help you and your team to create consistently high-quality slide decks. The whole, beautifully-formatted package.

A template includes a selection of pre-designed and built layouts, suitable for a range of content. All you need to do is add your messaging and accompanying visuals into the placeholders. 

These placeholders have pre-set formatting, so that they not only hold your content in the right place, but also set your styling, magically create text and assets of the right size, font, and colour- and much more. Simply either drag and drop content into the placeholder or click the icon and add from your machine. You’ll notice a placeholder on a slide by its dotted outline, which won’t be visible when printing or presenting.

Built-in formatting, hierarchy, and structure, mean all your presentations will have a consistent feel to them. Even when being built by multiple employees across the business.

Why create a custom PowerPoint template?

why create a custom PowerPoint template

Your presentations need to perform at critical face-to-face moments, such as meeting with prospects and communicating with key stakeholders. In this respect, they’re as important as your company’s website or other marketing materials. And they should be equally well designed, well built, and impactful.

Just as in other company communications, you’ll want to put your best foot forward. A robust, branded PowerPoint template helps everyone in your organisation do exactly that. It ensures key opportunities aren’t dashed by ugly presentations that don’t look like they’ve had one hour spent on them, let alone 50.

But there are plenty more advantages as well.

Save time and money with a custom PowerPoint template

Instead of starting from scratch every time they need to put something together, your team can pick from a selection of pre-made slide layouts to build upon. They can choose the best layout for their content. Add the visuals that support their message. And save out as a regular, ready-to-go .pptx, or a .ppsx file, if they want the presentation to launch automatically as a slide show.

This means greatly reduced time and financial cost for your business. With a branded presentation template in place, you can quickly turn around presentations to meet tight deadlines. And your people can be freed up to focus on the really important stuff.

Consistently excellent presentations

Your brand is a promise to your customers and clients. Every time they see your brand identity, they know they can rely on you to deliver solutions to their problems. But if your team are putting out inconsistent, off-brand presentations, your audience won’t know what to think.

A custom PowerPoint template is the perfect solution to this ‘too many cooks’ problem. It ensures that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet – brand-wise – across business functions. While a dense set of brand guidelines can potentially overwhelm and intimidate users, templates are an easy way of making sure every presentation stays on brand.

Your team are still free to use the content and imagery they deem appropriate for the audience. But they can simply drop it into pre-built slides, and not have to worry about aesthetics. The flexibility a custom PowerPoint template offers is a huge benefit for organisations that are constantly producing and delivering presentations. 

How to build a custom PowerPoint template

how to build a custom PowerPoint template

We design our template slides in Adobe XD, for the most part. Though we’re not suggesting you need to learn how to use the entire Adobe suite, it is useful to think about how you want your slides to look, before you start thinking about building the template. For some simple PowerPoint design tips, see our previous blog on the matter.

Once you’ve set your branding rules through design, every rule needs to be applied to the Slide Master. The customisations you make to your Slide Master filter through to all the slides you build using this template. Here’s how to set yours up:

  1. Access your Slide Master by clicking View in the top ribbon, then Slide Master.
  2. Delete all slide layouts so you’re left with just the Parent Master at the top. 
  3. Set up your colours. Go to the Colors dropdown and select the Customize Colors… button at the bottom. A pop-up will appear where you can customise each colour within your palette. By clicking on the colour and selecting the More Colors option, you will bring up your custom settings. Here you can insert RGB or Hex value codes. We’d recommend sticking with black and white for your Text/Background Dark 1 and Light 1, but the rest are your choice. Remember to name your colour selection, so you can reuse and revisit it for another template or presentation. 
  4. Set up your fonts. Go to the Font dropdown and select Customize Fonts… button at the bottom. In this pop-up, you can choose a Heading and Body font style from the dropdown. Remember to name your font style selection, so you can reuse and revisit it for another template or presentation. 
  5. Rename your Master for the project or purpose. Select the Parent Master slide, then – in the top ribbon – select Rename to enable you to name your template theme.
  6. Hit Preserve – directly below – to make sure the Master remains in the presentation, even if you don’t use it. 

Setting up the Parent Master

Next, you need to set up the Parent Master. Effectively, whatever you tell the Parent Master to do, it will roll out to the rest of the layouts.

  1. As standard, all these placeholders should already be on your Parent Master: Title, Body, Date, Footer and Slide Number. 
  2. Select all the placeholders on the Parent Master. Right click, select Format Object, then Text Options, and Do Not Autofit
  3. Customise the Title placeholder by changing the font size, colour, weight, and position of box, just as you would when building a slide. 
  4. Stylise the Body placeholder by selecting the text box and – under the Home tab – selecting Paragraph Styles. Here you can change the leading of your text. We normally set this to 0pt Before, 6pt After, and Line Spacing to Multiple 0.9. We also suggest removing the bullet from the first line of text, so all your placeholders don’t automatically start with a bullet point. Then, resize your text to the desired font size.
  5. Set up your Footer placeholder by font size, colour, weight, and position. You can also change the date formatting by going to the Insert tab then Date and Time

Building layouts

Now that you’ve set up your Parent Master, you can start building your layouts. 

  1. Under the Slide Master tab, click on Insert Layout. All the Parent formatting will be carried across, and you can simply add and adjust to match your layout designs.
  2. If your designs require new placeholders to be added, click the Insert Placeholder dropdown in the top ribbon and choose the type from the selection. You have the choice of Content, Text, Picture, Chart, Table, or Media. As Content allows for all the types of content to be added, it’s a useful way to add flexibility. Click on the slide to insert it. 
  3. You can reposition, resize, change the shape of, and style these placeholders with a fill or outlines to suit your designs. You do this just as you would when building a regular slide – using the Formatting tools.
  4. You can also add locked elements onto your layout, including shapes, lines, images, video, etc. Anything that isn’t created using a placeholder will automatically be locked into the background of your layout and won’t be editable on the slide. 

Final steps

  1. Once you’re happy with the selection of layouts you’ve built, right click on each one and select Rename Layout to give each a relevant title and make it easy for your team to choose the right one for their content.
  2. Close the Master View to return to the presentation editing window. 
  3. Save your file as a template by selecting the file extension .potx from the dropdown. 

Taking your custom PowerPoint template to the next level

While putting a basic template together – as outlined above – can be easily done and definitely helpful, creating a template that accurately represents your brand, wows every audience, and works intuitively for your team’s needs, takes a little more time, effort, and a few more specialists as well. Building a template well is somewhere between a science and an art. Sure, it takes an eye for detail and aesthetics to create the design, but the build is extremely technical. In fact, just one small mistake and working in your new template will end up being more frustrating than starting from scratch. That’s why we check over 60 quality control points for every template we build.

As well as being really hard to break, our templates look pretty good too.

How to introduce a custom PowerPoint template to the team

Having the steady foundation that comes from a custom PowerPoint template will increase your overall brand consistency. But you can’t just throw the new template at your team and expect the results to be dramatically different. They need a little help.

One easy way to provide this is to include instructions with your template. Do this by overwriting the default placeholder text with prompts such as “Insert your own text here” or “Write something witty here”. You can do this by typing into the placeholders while still in the Slide Master.

Adapting to change

Nobody likes change, but without change we’ll never see progress. The secret to successful, effortless change when introducing your new template is in the whole team’s involvement. Make them feel as though they own a significant role in the new adventure. Get them excited about all the good things that are on the horizon. 

Our immersive template training sessions do just that. 

Not only will we teach your team how to use their new Buffalo 7-built custom PowerPoint template to create presentations way beyond their own expectations, but we’ll also make sure they have fun doing it.

Our templates are easy to use and designed around your team’s skill level. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking to boost that level up – and get more from your investment. Harness the full potential of your new template and your team. Remove the frustrations. And let them focus on connecting with their audience, while ensuring every presentation is on brand and beautiful.

Talk to one of our lovely Buffs today to start enabling your teams with the tools and techniques they need to be more effective every time they present.

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