Do you know the trick with the black slide?

What does your audience look at when you are on stage? You. Except when there are slides. And precisely that is the problem with slides. They suck up all the attention.

Should you get rid of your slides altogether, then? Not necessarily. A simple trick such as the black slide can offer a solution. Even when you don’t have much time to create an extensive slide deck.

How does it work?

There are a number of slides that you absolutely want to share during your presentation, but at times there’s not really anything to show. Instead of leaving your previous slide up or projecting a meaningless slide, why not go with a black slide.

A black slide is an empty slide with a black background. When projecting it on the screen, it feels as if there is no slide at all. And that will direct your audience’s undivided attention over to you.

There must be a better way

Most slide changers have a button that allows you to black out the screen. Exactly the effect your black slide has. Only, as a speaker, you need to know exactly where that button is located. There is a good chance that you will start fidgeting around on stage because you are unable to find the button right away. Are you standing close to your laptop? Then you can also simply click on the letter ‘b’ on your keyboard for PowerPoint. The result? A black slide!

An example

Suppose you absolutely want to show your audience two figures. The first figure will appear after 4 minutes, the second after 8 minutes. Additionally, you would like to have a title slide and a final slide with your contact information. Your slide deck will look like this:

  1. Black slide (during your intro the attention should be on the speaker)
  2. Title slide
  3. Black slide
  4. Figure 1 (after 4 minutes)
  5. Black slide
  6. Figure 2 (after 8 minutes)
  7. Black slide
  8. Final slide with your contact information

Also for online presentations?

No. If you want to create that attention-grabbing effect online, stop sharing slides so you, the speaker, can be seen full screen. Because a black slide during an online presentation is just a big black canvas.

For each part of your presentation, always ask yourself: will slides add value for my audience here?

  • If Yes: go for it, use that slide.
  • If No: share a black slide or leave out the slides.

Want to learn more about presenting online or offline? Take a look at our workshop page.

Translation: Leslie Van Ael