How to Improve PowerPoint Presentations with Black Slides

Microsoft PowerPoint Tips & Tricks

Powerpoint black slides, black slide in PowerPoint presentationsHave you ever found yourself sitting in a meeting staring at the same PowerPoint slide for 5 or 10 minutes? Or even longer? If the presenter is still talking about the content on the slide, then this is a problem with the design of the presentation and the speaker’s presentation skills. However, sometimes the disconnect is that the current topic isn’t even related to the slide displayed on the screen. A PowerPoint black slide or display might be the solution.

Temporarily switching to a black display or slide is an effective way in PowerPoint to change focus, move to audience interaction, or to handle discussions or content not related to the current slide in a presentation. Why bother? You don’t want to leave your audience distracted by the slide in front of them, especially if the presentation or conversation has changed. Plus, a black display quickly signals a change in topic or material and keeps the participants engaged in the conversation.

Let’s explore 5 ways to work with a PowerPoint black slide or display:

  1. Presentation Remote
  2. Projector Remote
  3. Quick Slide Show Keyboard Shortcuts
  4. Create a Black Slide
  5. End with a Black Slide

Presentation Remote

The easiest way to switch to a black display is with a presentation remote. If you use one, practice using the button to go to a black screen, so you are less likely to accidentally hit this button when you don’t want it. Not using a presentation remote? Find out the Top 6 Reasons Why You Need a Presentation Remote for PowerPoint and, once you’re convinced, explore how to choose a presentation remote control.

Projector Remote

If a presentation remote is not available, you may have access to the projector remote control. This is more likely for smaller or internal presentations when the A/V equipment is not so tightly controlled as with conference sessions or large groups. Many projector remotes have an option for “Black Screen.” Also, practice turning this feature on and off. Do not choose “Standby” as it may take several minutes to “wake-up” the projector from this mode.

Quick Keyboard Shortcuts to a Black Display

While running your PowerPoint slide show, easily switch to black by pressing the letter B (for black) or press the [Period] key while running your slide show. Just press B again to restore the presentation.

You can also press the letter W (for white) to toggle/switch to a white display. A white display, however, is often too bright in many presentation environments. Download your own handout of PowerPoint presentation shortcuts, so you’re ready for your next presentation.

Create a Black Slide

As with other parts of a presentation, you may also want to build in or choreograph your interaction and other transitions in addition to the slide show. Do this by adding a black slide at the point where you want to temporarily change focus.

One advantage of a black slide over just turning the screen black is that, when you continue with your presentation, the next slide or topic will display instead of the previously displayed slide. Plus, a black slide may “jog” your memory about planned transitions.

To create a black slide in PowerPoint:

  1. Create a slide with a Blank Layout: Home > New Slide > Blank.
  2. Pick on the Design tab > Format Background.
  3. Click Hide Background graphics.
  4. Choose Solid fill and pick a black from the Color options.

End with a Black Slide

Another way to work with a black slide in a PowerPoint presentation is to choose whether you want to end your presentation with a black slide. Although this is a default in PowerPoint, you can quickly verify or change this option.

To set the option to end a slide show with a black slide:

  1. File > Options.
  2. Select the Advanced category. Under the Slide Show section, check or uncheck End with black slide and OK to continue.

Bonus Tip: To avoid moving too far at the end of a PowerPoint presentation and accidentally exiting out of a slide show, I like to add a few “buffer” slides I don’t plan to show. However, if I do click too many times with my presentation remote, the extra slide will display. Good choices for these ending slides include a simple slide with your company logo or website or an appropriate photo.

Finally, as with any presentation, make sure to practice your presentation (along with planned interaction) so that you can effectively and successfully deliver your message.

Were these PowerPoint tips helpful? Discover more PowerPoint techniques and shortcuts here.

By Dawn Bjork, MCT, MOSM, CVP, The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer, Productivity Speaker, Certified Virtual Presenter

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