Start your presentation off right – kill the big white box

Want to get your presentation off on the right foot? Don’t start with a blank white slide. This may seem obvious, but I am amazed at how often I see it. While the preacher (or presenter) is giving some opening remarks, a large white rectangle is presented on the screen or wall next to him. There isn’t anything in it. It is just this large white space screaming at the audience for attention – but it has nothing to say. Is there something wrong? Was there supposed to be something there that didn’t work? Why does he want us to look at nothing? All of these are legitimate questions your audience is probably asking while you are talking. And believe me, if they are asking these questions they are not fully listening to what you have to say – you have lost their attention and you haven’t even started yet.

The solution is simple – make one solid black background slide at the beginning of your presentation. A black background slide won’t shine a big black square on the wall – it won’t show up at all. Now, I know some of you are saying that you can just hit the “B” key on the keyboard to “blank” or “black” the slide. While that is true there are two main problems with this approach. First, you may not be right near the keyboard to start the presentation when you want to or your remote may not have this function (although that is rare). Second, and in my mind most important, is that the “b” key doesn’t allow you to start your presentation with a slide transition. Placing a black background slide at the beginning allows you to use a nice fade, wipe or rotate transition to bring your title slide into view. This creates interest and will help focus attention on your first slide.

Rather than distract your audience before you even begin – kill the white slide and start with a black one. Fade in your first slide when you are ready to start and rivet your audience’s attention when and where you want it.

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