by Paul C. Tumey

First impressions matter. In PowerPoint presentations the first impression your audience has of you could be from your title slide. This image, representing you, could be on the screen for several minutes before you start speaking. Therefore, it’s worth putting in a little extra effort to make a professional, polished and — dare I say it? — impressive title slide.

I think of title slides as being similar to the cover of a book, magazine, or CD. The idea is to capture the attention and interest of people so they will want to explore the content within. Sure, in business arenas, it is acceptable to simply type in a title, your name, a date and call it a title slide. But it actually doesn’t take that much more effort to make an impressive title slide that will help make a strongly positive first impression.

I’ve worked with event producers at conventions and seminars. From them, I’ve learned the first slide goes on screen while people are taking their seats. These professionals call the first slide a walk-in slide, because that’s what’s on screen as people are walking into the venue.

PowerPoint trick neat title slide design 9

PowerPoint Popsicle trick neat title slide design 10

Here’s a neat trick for making an exciting PowerPoint title slide with a slanted “popsicle sticks” layout like the example above. This design can be easily created and adjusted to fit your colors and branding elements.

You don’t need to be a designer to pull this off. But, if you make a walk-in slide with this tip, people might think you’re a designer!

Step One

First, you need to make a colored background. This is actually a key part of the design. Don’t be too concerned about what color to use at this point — we’ll come back to color selection later. Draw a rectangle to fill your slide and make sure it has no outline.

PowerPoint trick neat title slide design 1

Step Two

Now, select the Rounded Rectangle shape and draw a long thin bar, as shown in the illustration. If you click on the bar after you’ve drawn it, you’ll see there is a small yellow handle. Click and drag that handle to adjust the rounded corners to be as round as possible. The end result should look a bit like a popsicle stick!

PowerPoint popsicle stick trick neat title slide design 2

Step Three

Click on the rotate handle and position the shape so that it points diagonally into the slide (about a 320 degree angle). The top end of your popsicle stick should go off the slide.

PowerPoint tip title slide design

Step Four

Duplicate this shape so that you end up with a set of five. You can vary this number, but generally odd numbers of shapes are waaaay more interesting (my college art teacher taught me this). Arrange them into a pattern so they form a kind of “V” that points down and into the slide. Keep some space between them, but not too much.

You can also make the middle shapes a bit thicker. It’s not too important to be precise in sizing and spacing here — just do what looks good.

PowerPoint trick neat title slide design 4

Step Five

Select all the shapes (hold the shift key down and click on each shape) and group them together. It is mission-critical to group the shapes — otherwise this effect will not work.

PowerPoint group objects

Step Six (The Magical Step)

Here’s where the magic happens: go to Shape Fill and select “Picture.” Navigate through your files to select the photo you wish to use. For this layout, a horizontal photo will work best. Obviously, choose a photo that is relevant to your content.  Once you select the picture, your shapes will fill with it.

You should have one image, broken into the five popsicle sticks — neat!

If you do this step and get five weirdly stretched images, you need to make sure you grouped the shapes together and that you selected the entire container for the group, and not one shape inside the container.

PowerPoint trick fill shape with picture

Step Seven

Click on the background shape and set the color so that it compliments your image. In my first example, I chose a bright yellow to contrast with the rich blues of my image. If you have a dark image, you might want to choose a light color, or vice versa.

Another option is to use the eyedropper tool in the Shape Fill menu (of PowerPoint 2013 and higher) and select a color from the image itself. It’s best to look for a color that works as an accent in the image, not the most pervasive hue.

PowerPoint trick neat title slide design 7

Step Eight

As a last touch, you might create two thin bars as shown and layer them on top of your image .When you make the same color as the background, this will give a nice designer touch to the image.

PowerPoint trick neat title slide design 8

BONUS: More Examples

Once you make this slide, it is easy to adjust. Here are some variations on this design that I quickly made from the original.

PowerPoint trick neat title slide design 12

PowerPoint trick neat title slide design 13

PowerPoint trick neat title slide design 11

And, of course, you can play with this technique to create other designs, such as this one:

PowerPoint trick neat title slide design 15

This Tutorial as a Video