Master Your Message Blog

How to Choose a Background

In the corporate environment, many times the background is the thing that gets designed long before the presentation has even a defined goal. Artists can spend hours getting just the right look and feel to make sure the company gets promoted in the very best light.

Let me ask you this: Why? In fact, I want you to ask that very question next time you’re developing a presentation. Why spend all that time on the background, corporate identity and logo? That presentation isn’t even about those things.

What can happen is that the background and logo become so imposing that they actually detract from the point you’re trying to make. I’ve seen lots of examples, particularly in sales conventions. The background was so “busy” and took up so much space that the message became secondary … and was sometimes lost altogether.

Backgrounds should be in the background.

That may sound like a rather trite statement but it’s amazing how often the design of the slide skews or clouds the message. This happens more often than not when the designer is not made privy to the objective of the presentation. Or when it’s a generic background being designed for all the presentations at a specific convention.

The key is to focus on the message first and foremost and long before you design a background. After all, a persuasive presentation is highly focussed communication, not a glib corporate promo.

I tend to use black backgrounds much of the time. It’s because I speak in a variety of rooms and often don’t know what the lighting will be like beforehand. I want as much contrast as possible and as few distractions as possible.

Keep in mind that contrast is really important. You can have any color you want in the background, but I highly recommend that it’s a dark color. Make the text a light color (white and yellow are best for contrast) and don’t get fancy.

It’s all about communication. Not advertising. And so I challenge you to keep that in mind. Focus on the message. If you clutter up the screen, the audience can so easily get distracted by all that other “stuff.”

Now, I’m not saying, “Don’t put a company logo subtly in one of the corners.” I’m simply saying, “Think about your objective” and create a background that support that objective.

Make it easy on your audience. Focus on them, not your company’s ego.

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