Use Black Slides

black slidePower points are great – used correctly. The problem is 95% of the time we run into PowerPoint Abuse.

If you follow just ONE rule it can transform the way you can present information to influence using PowerPoints (or PPs - making them generic.)

Definition: I'm using the term PowerPoints to refer to the Microsoft program (could be Keynote in the Mac world) as SUPPORT to your in person, spoken presentation. If you are leaving behind a "deck" or presenting a written presentation that is in a PowerPoint or pdf format - that's a different animal. As Garr Reynolds states so well, that is a "slideument" and is used for a different purpose!

So Use Black Slides In Creating A Spoken Experience

There are three reasons, but first the context.

The problem with PPs are that they become the presentation itself, and that lends to delivering information, and data dumps. In most business settings it’s almost like reading a manuscript as someone puts up PP after PP and uses them as his/her notes. Too many bullets and too much text. (Rule of Thumb with PPs – less is more!)

Use black slides and transform your presentations. A black slide is literally a slide with no master and a black background. (It is not the “B” key which will blank out a slide, but you always have to unblank, and go back and show the old slide before you can continue on.)

A black slide will do three things

1. Clear the screen.

Once you’re done with the picture, graph or supporting information, you want to remove distraction, and go to a black slide so you can amplify, tell a story, or make an additional point, etc.

2. Black out the screen.

Simply put, so you can walk in front of the projector. Almost all meeting, board and conference rooms are poorly designed so that they have the projector screen right in the middle of the room or stage. It should be at the right or left, so YOU can be in the middle. After all, YOU should be the center of your presentation, not your slides.

3. Totally change your mindset.

Change the creation and emphasis of the presentation. This is by far the most important of all, and needs it’s own paragraph.

Philosophy of the Black Slide

I’d estimate that 95% of business presentations are poorly conceived in that they are created in PowerPoints. It may be easier, but it is not more effective. If you realize that your information and your PPs are NOT your presentation, but YOU and your KEY POINTS are, then you will create your presentation first, and use PPs to amplify your Point Of View. Decide what you want to say, then add the support - and your PPs will be used effectively, with graphs, pictures, video clips and other SHARPs to bring memorability and power to your Point Of View.

When you THINK Black Slides, you will put together your PPs after you create and organize your thoughts (and using the Decker Grid is the ideal way to do that.) Then your PowerPoints will be additive (and not essential.) Only when you think in terms of Black Slides will you be freed up from PowerPoint Abuse.

15 thoughts on “Use Black Slides
  1. Slide…
    Slide nere e interruzioni Berd Decker suggerisce di inserire delle slide nere all’interno di una presetnazione, per eliminare il rumore, concentrare l’attenzione, creare un momento di rottura cognitiva. Sposo a pieno ll’intenzione e meno la soluzione.

  2. I started using black slides several months ago and have noticed a huge difference in the quality of my presentations. It accomplishes all the things you mentioned above.
    Even if someone is not all that great at presentation design, they will see and feel the difference. The audience will appreciate it as well.
    It’s definitely the small things that count.
    Great post!

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  4. One alternative, if you want a black slide mid-presentation -just press the “B” key (in Powerpoint) Pressing “W” will give you a blank white screen.

  5. The “B” key works fine to give a black screen on occasion, but it is not the solution for the ‘mindset’ of Black Slides. If you clear the screen with the B key, you have a problem going to the next slide or concept because when you hit ‘next’ you will bring up your old slide. And your audience’s mind goes back to that – even for an instance – before it can go forward.
    Good to know the “B” key, but for biggest impact use the Black Slide concept.

  6. What a great idea! The black slide sort of performs the function of sorbet at a gourmet dinner…it gives the audience the opportunity to “cleanse their [mental] palate” and be ready to receive the next idea, piece of information, concept. Just like at dinner, one doesn’t forget what has gone before, but the “cleanser” just makes one more prepared to experience the next bite.

  7. You’re right about there being a different mentality in slide making. Too often people are just throwing their own slide notes on the screen adn reading to the audience.
    They should be teaching this stuff in B-school. PPT is the medium of choice, so we ought to embrace the tools we have.

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