Creating striking PowerPoint presentations means carefully considering every single element included on your slides. From graphics to fonts to colours to text, making the right aesthetic choices increases audience engagement and makes your presentation look more professional. A strong slide background provides a grounding element for your presentation and helps provide visual consistency, but creating one can prove surprisingly difficulty. Here are best practices and tips to help you create striking slide backgrounds that will enhance any presentation.


PowerPoint, Background Choices for PowerPoint Presentations

Photo, Pattern or Solid Color: Which is the Best?

When it comes to creating the perfect background, you have three basic choices: A photo, a pattern or a colour. Knowing which is right for your presentation means weighing your overall goals and deciding what type of design you’ll favour. Use the following tips to guide you as you choose what type of background to use.

Use a solid colour background if you:

  • want to create a minimalist look but plan on using a variety of images throughout your presentation,
  • need a design that is scalable across a variety of devices,
  • want to use strong, simple colours to create emotional appeal or
  • need to create a presentation with strong contrast between text and background for an audience with visual impairments.

Use a patterned background if you:

  • want a simple design that incorporates branding elements,
  • want to incorporate whitespace as a part of your background schema or
  • are aiming to evoke emotions using colours but feel that a solid coloured background is too simplistic.

Use a background image if:

  • you want a highly branded look for your presentation,
  • plan to use mostly text on slides as opposed to slide images and
  • know exactly what device your presentation will be displayed on and don’t have to worry about scaling problems.

When creating PowerPoint backgrounds, it’s important to differentiate between background images and hero images. A hero image is an image that occupies both the background and foreground of a slide. A hero image is used to convey a central message and catch the viewer’s attention. Unlike a background image, a hero image is meant to stand out and send a direct message about the content of your slide. Use hero images instead of background images if you want to create simple, targeted messages that your presentation audience can understand without fuss. Use background images if you’re presenting nuanced or technical information that needs to be explained in depth.

PowerPoint, Background Choices for PowerPoint Presentations

Focus on Complementing Your Content

Presentation backgrounds are designed to provide a grounding element for your slides. As you choose your background, remember that it must complement your content in order to be successful. Before you choose your slide background, think about the overarching theme and message of your presentation. Any background you choose should directly correspond to and complement the wider presentation.

That means that you should avoid choosing backgrounds just because they look cool or have strong visual appeal. A gorgeous background that isn’t related to the spirit of your presentation will distract viewers instead of impressing them. If you’re having trouble coming up with a background pattern or image, ask a design pro at your organization to create a bespoke background for you.

Presentation Backgrounds: Essential Aesthetic Choices

Knowing some basic design theory can help any PowerPoint presenter create stunning slide images and backgrounds. If you’re creating backgrounds for a presentation, it’s especially important to understand the value of negative space, focus areas and translucency. Knowing how to use these design elements will enhance the appearance of your presentation backgrounds and make all of your PowerPoint slides look professional.

Negative space

Negative space is defined as the area surrounding the main object in a photo or design. It helps to draw attention to the main subject of a composition and also provides a resting point for the eyes. As you design your slide background, think of how you can use it to create negative space around the focal point of each slide. Remember that the background is meant to draw attention to slide content, not detract from it.

Focus areas

Focus areas such as blurred lines help the main content of your slides stand out. Instead of using a crisp, clear image for your background, use a slightly out-of-focus or blurred image that helps text stand out to viewers. By using blurred lines in your background, you help draw the eye to important information and also provide a visual break for your viewers. If you like the idea of focus areas but want to mix things up, use the same blurred image on each slide, but alter the color scheme to create visual difference.

Translucency or opacity

Translucency or opacity describe how well you can see through one design layer to the layer beneath it. If you’re utilizing an image for your background, you can use transparency to draw attention to text or other slide contents. Instead of imposing the text directly onto your background, create a box or bar on your page in a bold color with 30 to 70 percent opacity. Then, place text on the opaque layer. This will help text stand out while allowing your background image to show through too.

When done well, PowerPoint backgrounds provide the perfect counterpoint to the main content of your slides. They draw attention to your content and create useful visual reference points for your audience. Of course, creating stunning backgrounds is easier said than done. Working with a professional designer is a great way to enhance the beauty and efficacy of your PowerPoint presentations.

PowerPoint, Background Choices for PowerPoint Presentations


At Synapsis Creative, we’re design and PowerPoint professionals who know how to make every presentation pop. If you need assistance designing stunning backgrounds or creating an aesthetically compelling presentation, our design team can help.

Want to look through our comprehensive portfolio for some inspiration? 

Or maybe you want the right background, but don’t have the time? We can help!

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