What is the number one rule of PowerPoint presentations?  That’s right, “Less is more.”  So what’s the second rule of PowerPoint presentations, the one we most often forget?  It’s, “You are the center of the presentation, not your slides.”

I came across a great tip on the Decker Blog about the use of black slides in PowerPoint presentations.  Bert Decker rightly believes that a big problem with a lot of presentations is that the PowerPoint slides take over and become the point of the meeting, replacing the speaker.  And like many have said before, these presentations grow to have more and more slides with more and more bullet points, until eventually the speaker—and the meeting—can be replaced with an emailed attachment of that detailed PowerPoint.

Decker's solution?  Well, first use less slides of course, but his second solution is to insert the occasional all-black slide in there.  

Think about your last web conference.  What were you doing when the speaker had already talked about the bullet points showing, and was making a point before going on to the next slide?  For me, I was trying to listen while idly reading and re-reading the bullet points on the screen.  Yes, I missed part of what was being said.

So what if there was a black slide there?  With nothing to distract, I could have concentrated on the speaker much easier.  And if it’s a long time to the next slide, switch from PowerPoint to the speaker’s video feed.  A message will get across much more effectively if all we have to focus on is the speaker themselves.

Another great thing about a black screen is it’s also a definitive divider between ideas.  It shows that the previous section is over and now is the time to recap, to talk about what was covered.  And most important, a black slide tears attention and importance from the PowerPoint presentation to give it back to the speaker, the center of any presentation.