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Some presenters like it, some presenters don’t. The Black Slide often seen at the beginning or end of a PowerPoint presentation (not the black End of Slide Show… slide PowerPoint uses) can cause confusion for unaware presenters. But why? Why use a black slide to start your presentation? To focus the audience’s attention on you, the speaker. Remember that a PowerPoint presentation is there only to support or better illustrate what you say. Let the audience get to know you first. Then move smoothly into your PowerPoint title slide. Build an interest and curiosity. Now you got ‘em!

Another minor reason to use a black slide at the front of the presentation is to save a teeny bit of file size. An all black slide means PowerPoint doesn’t have to code all those colors and shapes in its slide preview.

And what about ending with an all black slide? Because you gotta be smooooth! Professional. When you go to the theater, after the play the curtain comes down. The black slide is the curtain coming down. If you drop back into PowerPoint work mode it is the equivalent of showing all the props, ropes, and pulleys backstage before the audience has left. If you drop out of show mode the audience has now forgotten what you have said is curious to see what you are doing in PowerPoint. Their attention has turned to the screen and off you. You’ve lost the last moments of your memorable closing words sinking in, your dramatic ending.

As an alternative to ending with a black slide go to Slide Show/Set Up Show in PowerPoint and check Loop continuously until ’Esc’. Now, after your last slide, click one more time and your first slide will show again. If you have your name and lesson title on that frame, both have now been reinforced in the viewer’s mind. They have actually seen this before so very quickly they are now re-focused on you again and your closing words.

Loop continuously until ’Esc’ is great to use all the time. By always checking it you guarantee not accidentally dropping out of Show Mode. You must use the Escape key to return to Work Mode. Sometimes a nervous hand can click twice at the end of a show and drop past the End of Slide Show… slide and into PowerPoint. Not a classy ending.

No, everyone doesn’t have to use a black slide on every presentation every time. Having your title slide or interesting photo up as the audience comes into the room or leaving a The End slide up at the end of a presentation probably works just as well. Once something is up on screen long enough the focus returns to the speaker. Every presentation should be just a little different. It’s that little difference that can add spark and interest to a day of PowerPoint presentations. Just be sure the audience is leaving their seats, you are disconnected from the projector, or another activity has started before leaving your PowerPoint presentation. You will then project confidence and professionalism.

For more information on creating a black slide in your presentation contact:
Maria U. Anderson, AV/Visual Information Specialist