Echo Swinford is a Microsoft MVP for PowerPoint specializing in the development of PowerPoint templates, presentations, and training for corporate clients. Julie Terberg is also a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP and an accomplished designer that develops customized PowerPoint templates. Both have been in the industry for over 20 years and have advanced PowerPoint expertise, as well as are speakers at the Present to Succeed conference in April.

In this episode, we talk about their book, THE book on PowerPoint templates, what really is a template, and some practical advice on them. Echo also shares the latest developments at the Presentation Guild.

Designing PowerPoint templates

With Julie and Echo, we discuss their book – Building PowerPoint Templates: Step by Step With the Experts – and how it happened. Back in 2007, they developed the templates for Microsoft PowerPoint with a trial-and-error approach until they perfected their process. Afterward, they noticed that their clients had trouble designing templates on their own and decided to share their knowledge in a book. At some point, their book was priced at a whopping $4000, because there just was no other information available about the topic at the time. Julie and Echo also share with us that the second edition is on their minds.

Potential mistakes in template design

Some of the top mistakes they point out in presentations are trying to cram too much information on a single slide and the absence of contrast in any data visualization slides. Also, not respecting the white space around any content for breathing room is a bad idea. They additionally advise us not to be afraid to split up any crammed slide into one topic per slide.

For virtual presentations, they actively encourage us to pay attention to readability and contrast. Another issue with presentations and templates is their size. Having a 50 Mb template is doing nobody any favors because it is important that you can email it without any problem.

A great template or slide library provides the infrastructure needed for people who are not designers. It gives them tools where designers have already taken decisions. Designers are used to starting with a blank canvas, but a blank slide is intimidating to other people. A template is really to give everyone a better starting point.

The Presentation Guild and the available certifications

Echo and Julie also tell us more about the Presentation Guild, which Echo has founded to advocate for our industry and help people legitimize their skills in presentations. They have developed a certification programme where they already have a Presentation Specialist exam and are currently working on the Expert level. Of course, there will also be a Master Level.


You can find Echo Swinford on her Twitter, LinkedIn, or her site. Julie Terberg is available on Twitter, LinkedIn, and her site. Their book is available here, and you can check the Presentation Guild here.

Listen to the full episode!