16:9 or 4:3? The presenter’s dilemma
Presentations are slowly moving to a 16:9 aspect ratio, the same ratio as modern television sets and recent computer screens. PowerPoint 2013 already defaults to a 16:9 format. Many company PowerPoint templates already exist both in 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. Internal presentations are more likely to be 4:3, but in official external events the aspect ratio is almost always the widescreen 16:9 format. It is not just a matter of the aspect ratio used in your presentation, the projector also has to support a widescreen format and not all do. If you are thinkiing of changing the internal template to 16:9, make sure all the projectors in your meeting rooms support it.
If you are preparing a presentation for a conference, ask the event organizers what they are standardizing on, what aspect ratio the screen and projector support and build your slides appropriately. I have attended conferences where 16:9 was supported and presenters used both 16:9 and 4:3. The 4:3 decks do not look good when mixed with 16:9 widescreen presentations.
Changing a 4:3 slide deck from 4:3 to 16:9 is not necessarily a quick change. If you just change the slide size it is possible that all images and logos will be stretched or incorrectly positioned, resulting in a very ugly and unprofessional presentation. Don’t leave this to the last minute, prepare in advance for the appropriate screen size.
An interesting and very useful post by Echo Swinford a while ago discusses aspect ratios and slide sizes, you may want to take a look, it is titled Size Matters.