Follow this easy guide for adding interesting backgrounds to your PowerPoint slides and create visually stunning presentations your audience will remember.
Comparing a PowerPoint presentation without backgrounds, or background images, to a presentation with backgrounds is like comparing a nutrition pellet to Gordon Ramsay’s perfect risotto. Yeah, you’re meeting the basic needs of your body, but why simply fuel when you can enjoy a beautiful meal?
Most people will choose the risotto over the food pellet.
If you are here, you know your presentations could be more palatable to your audiences, but may not know how to do it. By picking up a few of the following tips, you’ll be creating beautiful, interesting PowerPoint presentations in no time. And, if you’re in a major rush to get your presentation done, check our our free PowerPoint templates for two on-trend options that you can deploy quickly.
Backgrounds Keep People Engaged
Backgrounds are a good option if you don’t have applicable images, or if you’re dealing with a concept that is hard to visualize. For instance, a presentation on anything that doesn’t use a chart or graph to communicate data could use some imagery help. Sometimes, just some abstract, colorful backgrounds is enough. In the section after this are helpful categories, and we provide links to collections where you can choose your backgrounds.
Rules to remember for choosing backgrounds:
- Look for naturally occurring spaces and borders in the image — places where you can envision setting the text clearly.
- Text + background color combos to use or avoid.
- Keep it simple: the goal is to support the information, not distract.
- Beautiful is better than representational.
Categories of Backgrounds
Flexibility given by vector designs can provide the solution to photos that seem too on the nose or cheesy. Vector backgrounds can include icons, patterns made of icons, or just cool designs that support your text.
Textures can be used in a number of ways to add style to your slides. They can be transparent, colorful, subtle, bold, or serve whatever need you have for embellishment. For a huge FREE set of textures to download, click here. There are instructions within, but see the Effects section below to learn more.
Yes, backgrounds can be as simple as one solid color. Click here for a full guide. It helps to hue complex colors, rather than something from the primary or secondary sections of the color wheel.
For instance, instead of “light blue,” use aqua, turquoise, or teal. The same actually goes for green. Adding a little yellow in the mix helps it to not come across as bland.
On that note, if you want a red background for an urgent or important message, use a yellow-based red — not quite orange, but red with a little yellow mixed in for warmth. For the text, just use high contrast for legibility: dark on light, or light on dark.
Representational is fine, but sometimes you want to pretty things up without directly illustrating a specific point in the text. In fact, if you find you’re spending too much time looking for the perfect image, use an abstract image from this collection instead.
Like abstract imagery, patterns like these can add visual interest without being overly representational. They are just decoration, and help a viewer to relate to your slides in a very subtle way. Simply taking an extra step to add a colorful (supportive, non-distracting) pattern to a slide can a viewer retain it in memory.
Though the genre can be cheesy and overdone, business imagery that isn’t so generic actually does exist. Sometimes it’s just what you need to go with your presentation, and that’s totally fine. Use this collection to pick some better quality examples. Be sure to explore the different sub-categories at the top, too.
Cityscapes and photos depicting city life, night life, and the like are really handy for showing action, motion, and things happening and shaking.
Night shots are really cool too, visually speaking, with high contrast dynamics. Plus on a projection the lights look like they’re really shining, too.
Additionally, use this collection for infrastructure, or building types of themes. It’s full of industry and data and all kinds of nuts-and-bolts imagery to constructively support your presentations.
The most direct way to engage your audience is by using imagery with people. People relate to people. As long as you’re picking from high-quality imagery, like in the collection and examples here, you don’t have to worry too much about search terms and wondering if it’s too cheeky or something.
Showing people your audience can relate to is key. But, you don’t have to show people working, or use the generic stock photo of business people pointing at a screen together. Get loose and have fun.
Warm up a PowerPoint slide with images of nature. Natural elements can give life to cold, hard data, easing some of the disconnect between the information and the audience.
When using imagery, adding effects like opacity, filters, and vignettes helps to make text legible. Providing you used the rule at the top, picking images based on qualities that allow the text overlay without distraction, effects can help you focus on the text even more.
In Powerpoint, select an image and the Format Picture menu will open on the right. Click the “Picture” icon (it looks like a little mountain) for controls to change your image with effects.
Want even more on making memorable Powerpoint presentations? Check these out.
- How to Design Impressive Powerpoint Title Slides in Editor
- Why Your PowerPoints Need a Master Template (and How to Make One)
- 9 Tips for Making Beautiful PowerPoint Presentations
- Change Theme Colors in PowerPoint to Customize Your Presentation
- How to Add Video to Your PowerPoint Slides for More Engaging Presentations