Professional Presentation : How to Regain Control Using the "B" Key

Posted by Bridget Beirne
December 12, 2013

A step-by-step presentation skills training guide to regaining control of your slides by making them take a hike.

Have you ever been the victim of a photo bomb? There you are, taking a lovely picture of you and a sunset, when out of nowhere your best friend jumps in behind you making an insane face and giving a thumbs up. You wish you could just make her go away, but you can’t! There she is, drawing everyone’s attention away from what would have otherwise been the perfect selfie.

Now think about your most recent slide deck. Did you allow your screen to remain live during your entire presentation? Were you there, working your hardest at delivering your content like a boss, while your slides winked, thumbs-upped and generally upstaged your presentation? Unlike your best friend the photo bomber, there is a way to make your slides go away when you don’t want them there, returning the focus to you and your good content- by blacking out your screen. We’re going to tell you, step by step, how you can use the “B” key effectively in your next presentation. In five steps, you’ll be a pro.

 The "B" key on your keyboard, or the "blackout key" on your remote, turns off your slide deck, leaving you with just a black screen behind your head. (Incidentally, the "W" key has the same effect, but in white.) Take a moment to refresh your memory with this brief post about the power of blacking out your screen, then give this a try:

5 Steps to Regaining Control Over Your Slides with the B Key

1. Ask yourself, "Do I want them to look, or do I want them to listen?": Go through your presentation content with your slide deck, and ask yourself this question. Sometimes, your slide needs to be visible- you may have information at which you want your audience to look. However, the places where you want them to listen are clear directives to you that you can blackout your slides. Now, let's assume you've identified where those "listening" places are throughout your presentation. Next, you want to:

2. Use your slide to support the introduction of new topics: We know, because you've given lots of professional presentations before, that you definitely break your presentation down into "main messages" and "key points" that support that message. (Right?!) After you've identified those listening areas, focus on how to present them. As you introduce a new section of your content, let your slide remain on the screen behind you. Think of it as that nice sunset you wanted to be the setting for your perfect selfie, but you want to leave it on the screen briefly so it has no chance of becoming a distraction. So, for example, if this was your slide:



Leave it up while you say:

"In this next section, we're going to talk about the "B" Key. We're going to discuss what it is, what it does, and how it can help keep the audience's focus on us and not our slides. Let's start with what it is." After you've introduced your information:


3. Black it out: Using either the "B" Key on your keyboard OR the blackout key on your remote control, pause for a moment and black out your screen. Make sure you re-establish your strong eye contact with your audience before you begin to speak and outline your first key point. Using our example above, first:


Then establish eye contact and say:

"The B Key, or Blackout key, blacks out your presentation screen. When there is nothing new to see on the screen, there is no need to have it illuminated! This effectively returns the focus to you and your content, rather than having the audience's eyes be drawn to your slides."


4. Illuminate you screen to highlight information or a new key point, if neededNow, our example slide is fairly simple, but it can still be used to illustrate a great side effect of taking your screen away. If your slide isn't present the entire time, you can bring it back to highlight, introduce, or remind people about certain information. Say you wanted to move to a new key point, highlighting the effectiveness of the B Key. You might transition by saying:

"We feel this is a very effective way to gain control over your slides. How effective do we think it is?"

Pause, then bring back your screen. If you've used the B Key, any other key on the keyboard will bring the screen back. If you've used the remote's blackout button, hitting it again will return your screen:




Give your audience a brief moment to take the screen in again, then you can say:


"We say it's 100% effective."  Remember to give your audience a moment to locate that information on the slide!

5. Lather, Rinse, Repeat: Repeat the process, and your audience gets the clear message that your deck is there simply to support your content- the real infomation is coming from YOU. 



interesting speech topics





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