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Why Reusing PowerPoint Slides Might Do More Harm Than Good

Reusing PowerPoint Slides

There's a common practice in the world of PowerPoint presentations that may be one of my biggest pet peeves – the reuse of PowerPoint slides. It's not uncommon to see the same slides being recycled in multiple presentations, with only minor tweaks to fit the context. On the surface, it appears to be a sincere form of flattery. After all, if someone chooses to reuse your slide, it must mean they found your content compelling and well-designed. However, this practice can also inadvertently dilute the original intent and impact of the slide.

Slide reuse can be problematic as it often leads to dull and uninspiring presentations. Instead of tailoring your message to the audience, you end up delivering a generic and predictable presentation. This can result in reduced engagement, lower retention rates and ultimately, a less successful outcome.

Furthermore, the negative consequences become apparent when the visual association between the slide design and its original context is lost. When people see a familiar slide or image, they may recall the initial topic it was used for, which can cause confusion if the context has significantly changed. This has the potential to undermine the effectiveness of your presentation.

Reusing PowerPoint Slides: When and When Not to Use

That said, there are times when reusing slides can be beneficial, such as:

  1. When the data remains relevant: If the information on the slide is still valid and fits your current narrative, then reusing it can save time and maintain consistency.

  2. For standard company information: Slides containing standard company details, mission statements or core values can be reused across multiple presentations.

  3. When reinforcing a key message: If a slide contains a powerful point or key takeaway that you want to consistently emphasize in multiple presentations, reusing it can reinforce this message and make it more memorable for your audience.

However, before you start reusing slides, it is essential to consider the audience's familiarity with the content and whether the slide's previous use might create confusion.

Making a Reused Slide Your Own

Creating original slides doesn't have to be a daunting task. In fact, with a few minor adjustments, you can transform that original slide you admire into something fresh and unique, capable of standing on its own. If you decide to reuse a slide, here are some steps to make it your own:

  1. Change the Image: Replace the existing image with a new one that aligns with your current topic. This can help to refresh the slide and provide a new point of reference.

  2. Swap Placement of Text and Images: Changing the layout of the slide can also help to give it a fresh look. You might consider swapping the position of text and images.

  3. Add a New Design Element: Adding a subtle design element, such as a border, a different color scheme or reshaping an image can help differentiate your slide from its original version.

Here's an example of how you can take the layout of a slide, make minor edits and present your content with originality.

While reusing slides can be a time-saving tool, it is important to do so thoughtfully to maintain the integrity of your presentation. By considering the appropriateness of reusing a slide and taking steps to make it your own, you can ensure that your presentation remains effective and engaging. So, next time you're tempted to reuse old slides, remember: a fresh, tailored presentation is always more impactful.


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