Try This Technique to Avoid PowerPoint Presentation Stalls

by Dawn Bjork, MCT, MOSM, The Software Pro®

iaap-black-slide-image-holder

Have you ever found yourself sitting in a meeting staring at the same PowerPoint slide for five or ten 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 presentation skills of the speaker. 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 helps to keep 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.

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 slide with a black background 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 slide you were previously displaying. 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 or not 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. If I do, however, 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.


Dawn Bjork isThe Software Pro®, a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), and is a certified Microsoft Office Specialist (MOSM) Master and Microsoft Office expert. Dawn is passionate about sharing smart and easy ways to increase your software productivity through her work as a conference speaker, software trainer, computer consultant, and author of 9 books. Discover more software tips, techniques, and timesavers at TheSoftwarePro.com. Dawn also shares oodles of daily tips on Twitterand Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s