Ugh … PowerPoint. It isn’t my favorite presentation tool. Apart from the usual complaints about PowerPoint, it’s the use of technology that, for me, can bring with it too many risks. There is one thing that makes it better for me, though – a black screen.
We’ve all waited while a speaker or presenter boots up their PowerPoint right in front of us, right? And we stare at their desktop while we wait. Sometimes it’s a picture of family, or a car, or a random field in Iowa. Desktops can be a window into the soul. Or sometimes they’re just a window into the speaker’s dirty laundry … yuck.
My antidote? I color in an all-black slide and make it Slide #1 for my presentations. That way the projector can be on, the PowerPoint ready to go, but it looks like I haven’t plugged in or booted up yet. I was recently told this is a “brilliant idea” … by the very same woman who “did me a favor” and deleted my black slide.
The backstory is that I recently presented to a group in San Francisco and had sent them my slides ahead of time. However, when I arrived in the room, my logo slide – Slide #2 – was up, and Slide #1 was nowhere to be found. I was calm, but I worried about my slide deck because I knew it wasn’t what I sent over (the logo as an opening slide makes it look like it’s all about me – cardinal sin! – and I would never open that way). Long story short, the woman responsible for the event had assumed the black slide was some sort of mistake and she deleted it for me! We had a good laugh after I explained the method behind my madness …
Bottom line: You have less than 10 seconds to grab an audience’s attention when you get up to speak or present. Yes, audiences decide in less than 10 seconds if you’re worth listening to, or if you’re going to be just the usual. Don’t squander those precious seconds by fiddling with technology!
Communications Coach at SmartMouth Communications
SmartMouth Founder and Principal Beth Noymer Levine is a Communications Coach who is emerging as one of the country’s leading voices on how to prepare and deliver speeches and presentations that actually work for both the audience and the speaker.