Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

The Benefits of A Blank Screen

Let your audience rest their eyes and activate their brains. PowerPoint and similar presentation programs can be excellent ways to illustrate key points in training or even in short presentations, so this is not a plea to stop using them.  If each slide is prepared with care and intention, PowerPoint or similar presentation programs can add tremendously to the learning experience–it is mis-use and high quantity but poor quality that gives them bad reputations.  

Instead, I want to remind you to now and then use the B Key on the keyboard or the similarly magic button on the remote presenter. Those will give you a blank screen. 

On the keyboard you can get a blank screen without illumination by hitting “B” .  (You can get a white screen that is illuminated–and glaring–by hitting “W”. However, this is not as effective as the blank screen.)  On your remote presenter there is usually one button that takes the screen to blank–find it before you begin your presentation. To return to the slide,  click the same button or hit “B” again. 

You can also make a blank screen by simply inserting a new slide but not putting anything in it.  However, since it will probably have the same color scheme or template as the other slides, the class will assume you will be showing text or an image at some point and they’ll wait for it mentally. In addition, since it is a regular slide, the projector light will continue to glare and it won’t work well to stand in front of the screen or walk between the projector and the screen. Use the “B” key or the button on your remote presenter for much better results.

When to use a blank screen.

  • When you know you will be speaking about the material on a slide for several minutes and the visual reference isn’t needed, go to a blank screen.  (If you will be moving into a new topic, make a blank slide and click to it before going to the blank screen. That way when you click again you’ll open to the clear slide and can advance to the next one without having old material still showing. It’s not difficult!) 
  • If you don’t have slides to illustrate a topic or segment go to a blank screen.  Challenge yourself to find ways other than slides to illustrate or emphasize points.
  • Go to a blank screen as you discuss a new topic. Then, at the last of that segment use a slide. It’s a surprisingly effective way to regain attention as you summarize information.
  • When you have something that is so important you want the full attention of the group, go to the blank screen and move center stage as you interact more personally.
  • Go to a blank screen right before you announce break time, to indicate that  a topic is closed momentarily and everyone can relax mentally and physically.
  • If someone asks a question, go to a blank screen as a way to say, “I’m listening to you and I want everyone else to listen as well.”
  • When you want to show that you are comfortable as a speaker and presenter and don’t need slides to keep things going, go to a blank screen as you ask questions, respond to comments, tell an anecdote and in other ways fulfill your role as a trainer or speaker.

When you have a blank screen use it as an opportunity to stand in front of the screen for a change. Put the remote presenter down and see how nice it is to have your hands free. You’ll discover that audiences are more impressed with the blank screen now and then than they are with one slide after another.  The fact that I sometimes go to a blank screen is often mentioned positively in my critiques. (I refuse to think of that as a comment on the alternative!)

Blank screen moments. The next step is to purposely plan blank screen moments in your training.  Make a note in your lesson plan or workbook, to remind you to go  to a blank screen when you want to be sure to have no distractions as you ask a question, share an experience or segue from one training topic to another.  Don’t just look for those moments, create them.  Blank isn’t bad–in fact it can be very good!

June 6th, 2009 Posted by | Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 8 comments