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How to Customize a Keynote Presentation Template Design

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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Keynote templates are an excellent way to save time. They give you a quick start on creating a killer presentation. 

Discover the process of how to design a presentation based on a Keynote template. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to plan your content, customize your theme, and craft a number of effective slide designs. 

Get your presentation designed, looking sharp, and ready to present to a room full of clients or investors fast!

Before you step into this tutorial, browse through our Keynote Templates on GraphicRiver. We have a number of quality presentation designs to work with. For this tutorial, we'll use the popular Start Business Keynote Template (shown below). 

Start Keynote Presentation Template
Start Business Keynote Presentation Template

You can use this template to follow along with the design process closely, or take this workflow and apply it to another presentation design template. Let's get started!

The Setting

Of course, we will be creating a presentation with a particular goal in mind. I'll set the scene. For this tutorial, I'll be customizing a Keynote template to act as a sales deck for a fictional design agency. The process described below would be similar for other types of service-based companies which have a service to sell (think of marketing agencies for example). 

Below is first final slide we'll be creating in this tutorial. Download a PDF of the finished presentation. There are six slides in the download. You can use this asset to compare your customization results as you work through this tutorial.

1. Presentation Objective and Opportunity

No matter what context you're presenting in: walking in with a clear understanding of the opportunity as well as the objective increases your chances of success. (Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

Our first step is to identify both the objective as well the opportunity of the presentation.

  • The objective is what you ultimately want to achieve with your presentation. In our case it is selling design services.
  • The opportunity is presenting the value to whom you're pitching. If there is no value in your pitch for the people who will be listening, then there's no point to pitch.

For the design agency, the opportunity I want to present is that investing in design pays off as people value good design. My objective is to persuade the people listening to become one of our clients.

2. Content

The second step is to specify the content in your presentation. The purpose of your content is to achieve your objective. Typically this means that you have to present the opportunity with clarity—make it crystal clear for your audience.

In my presentation, I want to promote how good design pays off. In order to do so, I've brainstormed some content ideas which might work:

  • design case studies (to promote our capabilities)
  • our design process (to educate how we achieve results)
  • previous clients (to promote trust)
  • the team (to add a human touch to my presentation)
  • pricing (to achieve my objective of selling design services)

The above content is inspiration for slides in your presentation.

It's important to decide on your content before you start designing. This avoids the design process from distracting you from what you're trying to achieve. Set an objective and corresponding opportunities, that way you can stick to a well-thought out structure in your presentation.

3. Picking the Right Theme

Now we can dive into design. But first, we'll have to select the right presentation theme. This is a highly personal process. The theme you choose depends on your brand, your objective, your content, as well personal taste. 

On GraphicRiver, you can find a number of presentation template design choices for Keynote, as well as PowerPoint and Google Slides themes.

As previously mentioned, I've selected the following Keynote template for this tutorial. The Start theme feels elegant and has enough visual flexibility to present design services. 

Start Keynote Presentation Template
I'll be using Start, the business Keynote template to design the sales presentation.

Once you've chosen the theme for your presentation, it's time to start customizing. 

4. Customizing Your Presentation Template

When you open a design template, you will be greeted by dozens of different slides that you can use. First, go to File in the menu bar and choose Duplicate to separate the template from your working document. Rename the presentation accordingly as this will be your working file in order to keep the template intact.

First, look back at the content you have in mind. What type of slides do you need? How would these slides ideally be structured? 

Based on the content, we will select the slides we need in our presentation. Some Keynote templates use master slides (click on Add Slide to see the list of slides you can use), or the template designer has added all the slide designs directly into the presentation. For the Start template we're using, the designer opted for the latter option.

Choose the slides that you'll be using based on the content and remove the other slides. Now you have a good idea of how your presentation will look.

Personally, I always select multiple suitable slides I could use and copy them to my working document. I end up removing slides while I'm working on the presentation.

Note: If you're following along with the exact same template for this tutorial, know that I've chosen the light version and I've added the slide number per slide design so you can follow along.

As you can see in the slide list on the left, I've sorted through the slides I want to use for my presentation and dragged them into the right sequence. I removed the unnecessary slides from the working document as well. 

Step 1: Introduction Slide

Let's start with an introduction slide. I've picked slide 57 from the template design.

A slide design I've selected from the template to act as the introduction slide.

Let's start simple. We begin with changing the text. You can click on any text field in the slide and change the copy to your content. Besides editing the copy, it might also be a good idea to change the fonts to something which suits your brand. 

I've updated both the copy in the slide and selected a different font. In our example, I'll be using Roboto Slab as the title font and Fira Sans as the body font. 

The font selection and the copy was changed.

As you notice, there's an image placeholder. I drag in an example of my design work to replace the image placeholder and finish the slide.

Finished, customized slide.

Notice how easy it is to customize a slide. Typically, playing with text, fonts, images and colors goes a long way to customize slide templates. 

Hence it's recommended to first decide on your content, then figure out the presentation structure and as final step start customizing. This is the easiest workflow.

Step 2: Case Study Slide

After our introduction slide, the next slide in our presentation is the case study slide. In the template, I've picked slide 17 as a suitable slide for the case study. 

Slide 17 in the Start template is the slide I've selected to use as structure for the case study.

This slide template was designed to present a company's mission. What is excellent about templates is that you can repurpose slides. I'll be using this slide structure to present a case study instead.

Similarly as above, I'll be changing the imagery and typography to redesign the slide while retaining the slide structure from the template.

As you see, a couple of smaller tweaks and adding in content has transformed this slide into a case study.

A few simple modifications, makes a whole different slide.

Step 3: Design Process Slide

Once a case study is presented, we'll move on to presenting our design process. For this, I've selected Slide 19 from the Start Keynote template.

The original slide we'll tweak to present our design process.

Similarly as with the previous slide, we'll repurpose this slide to present the design process. The slide uses Iconography. To help visualize the design process a little bit better, I change the icons to new ones. 

You can use a free resource such as Font Awesome or The Noun Project to find custom icons to use in your presentation.

In the above slide, I changed the typography, content and icons to repurpose the slide. After a few simple changes, here are the results:

The completed design process slide.

Step 4: Team Slide

While some slides are slides you want to customize extensively, others are very straight-forward to edit. Take a team slide for example, just update the names and bio and add in a photo and you're all set. I've picked Slide 51 to use for this presentation, although slide 52-55 are ideal as well. 

The original team slide.
The finished team slide. (Sample profile photos from Unsplash.com.)

Step 5: Pricing Slide

You're also able to be a little bit more adventurous with your slides and change the slide structure. Take the final slide for example, which is the pricing slide. I've decided to use Slide 49 from the template.

An example of a pricing slide in the Start Keynote template.

Let's say we offer three products. This means that one pricing option can be removed. We also don't really need a call-to-action on the pricing slide, so we can remove this one as well.

With other words, feel free to tweak the structure of a slide according to your needs. 

A template can act as inspiration for a personally designed slide.

I've simplified the pricing slide according to our needs.

All Finished

There we go! We've finished customizing our presentation. Download a PDF of the finished results.

Some final thoughts:

  • Start with defining the objectives and the opportunities.
  • Choose your content, and transform it into presentable slides.
  • Pick a theme according to your needs.
  • Use typography to your advantage to create a unique look and feel.
  • Photography and iconography can completely change how a presentation feels.
  • You can edit template slides and change their structure.

The most important take-away: A presentation template is a shortcut. Hence there is no right or wrong way to use a Keynote template. Experiment and see what you can create.

Grab a Premium Keynote Template!

Wasn't it easy to customize a Keynote template? If you're looking for some excellent templates to start from, we've listed a few of our favorites here: 

Or you can head over to GraphicRiver to browse through our selection of hundreds of professional Keynote Templates. Find the presentation style with just the right slide designs that fit your upcoming presentation needs.

Additional Resources

In my previous tutorial, I covered how you're able to create a Keynote presentation template from scratch, read through the workflow:

Also, if you need a primer on presentation design, this article is a must: 

If you run into any questions while customizing a template, drop a note on Twitter or write a comment below. I'm happy to help you. Thank you for your time!

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