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PowerPoint: Black Slide  

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Improve Presentation Interaction with Black Slides

For Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 & 2002

Temporarily switching to a black display or slide is an effective way in PowerPoint to change focus, add audience interaction or to handle discussions or content that is not related to the current slide displayed in a presentation.

5 ways to display a black screen in PowerPoint:

  1. Presentation remote
  2. Projector remote control
  3. Quick keyboard shortcut:
    To move to a black slide or switch to black, press the letter B (for black) while running your slide show. Just press B again to restore the presentation. (This shortcut is one of many helpful tips found in the PowerPoint shortcut handout).
  4. End with a black slide. Set this option at Tools > Options and select the View tab. Under the Slide show area, check or uncheck End with black slide and OK to apply.
  5. 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. Create a black slide that you will move to when you want to make this planned transition in your presentation. Find out more below.

Why create a black slide over other options?
The first 3 choices give you the flexibility to change your screen display at any time and may be the only tools that you need. Just make sure to practice using your remotes or shortcuts so that the delivery is smooth. The biggest reason to create a slide with a black background is to add an intentional transition or change within your presentation. Many trainers, speakers, and other presenters plan out or choreograph transitions or interactions; the intentional "plan" just looks natural when delivered well.

An advantage of a black slide over just turning the screen black is that, when you continue with your presentation, the next slide or a new topic will display instead of returning back to the previous slide about the last topic. Plus, a black slide may "jog" your memory about planned transitions. Adding a black slide helps control the flow or choreography but it may not be the right choice for all presenters or presentations.

Creating a Black Background

(PowerPoint 2003 & PowerPoint 2002)

  1. First, create one or more new slides with a blank slide layout.

    TIP: I usually create a few slides at the end of my presentations and then move them into place as I organize and re-work my presentation plan and delivery.
  2. Next, select the slide(s) you want to change. To select more than one slide, switch to the Slide Sorter view then hold [Ctrl] and click on each slide.
  3. Choose Format > Background. Pick Omit background graphics from master.

powerpoint, background, slide, format, presentation

  1. Next, select the drop-down option for background color and pick Black.

PowerPoint, presentation, format, color, slide, background

  1. Finish with Apply (don't select Apply to All).

  2. From the Slide Sorter, move each slide into place where you want to add a transition or change in your presentation.

  3. 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.

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 that 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.


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Hot Tip
Change slide show display to white by pressing W; press W again to return to your PowerPoint presentation.

To switch a PowerPoint slide show display to black, just press B; hit B again to go back to the presentation.

Did You Know?
Quickly start a PowerPoint presentation with the [F5] function key.

Launch a slide show from the current slide with [Shift] + [F5] (new with PowerPoint 2003).
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