Powerpoint offers various options to create “fancy”, multi-colored background designs. Some people also think that a plain red or a black background will make their presentation cooler, more distinguishable or more memorable. They are wrong.
The truth is that most standard background designs offered by Powerpoint (or those that you can download in the internet) look like they were created by some chimpanzees on LSD. And regarding the plain-colored backgrounds – well, if you prepare some slides for your niece’s 6th birthday, a red background might be great, but for business…? Come on!
The only acceptable background color is white. Period.
A white background with a nice, clean frame is all you need for a professional, elegant presentation. The only exceptions of this rule are photographic backgrounds on the title page of a presentation. Sometimes, a full photographic background might also work on a single regular slide (see also post “Wow slides”), but if you use this stylistic device, make sure you have a great picture (use a real, fitting photo and not, under any circumstances, a clip art or some other kind of crappy images) and use it as an eye-catcher on a single slide rather than a constant background for all slides.