Have you ever been giving a presentation and you have been asked a question which has required you to temporarily divert from the topic of the slide you are showing?

Have you ever wanted to engage your audience in discussion and not wanted them to be distracted by your last slide

So what do you do? Well I’ve seen all sorts of creative solutions including putting the lens cap on the projector or propping a piece of card up over the lens. Neither of these is ideal, nor are they good for the health of your projector but fear not – PowerPoint has the solution built in but most people don’t know that it even exists.

The secret is simple. If you want to blank the screen simply press “B” on your keyboard and the screen will instantly go dark. To return to the presentation press “B” again and voila, you are back exactly where you left off.

It’s that simple.

NB: if you press “W” you get a white screen” and can toggle between this and your presentation by pressing “W” again. I’m not sure why anyone would want a white screen but the boffins at Microsoft thought you might so they built it in for you too.

This is a simple tip but it makes your job as a presenter much easier.



  1. Gavin Meikle, Trainer, Speaker & Coach on 04/06/2007 at 20:57

    Thanks Werner. I really appreciate the clarification and the feedback. Please feel free to add any other comments as and when. I really want this blog to be two way communication.

  2. Werner Kuper on 24/05/2007 at 10:12

    And for the international audience, the exact keys for getting the black or white screen depend on your language settings…

    The easy thing to remember is that B stands for Black and W for White in this nice PowerPoint feature. If you have a different language version of PowerPoint, you will have to replace them with the right words in that language. In Dutch these happen to be ‘zwart’ for black and ‘wit’ for white, so the right keys to use would be Z and W. Have a look at the excellent help file under ‘keyboard shortcuts’ and you will find them for your version. There you will read as well that you can also use the period and comma keys for the same effect (first one for black, latter one for white). But I agree that the mnemonics for Black and White are much easier to remember!

    By the way, I’ve use the white screen in situations where otherwise there would not be enough light to do the next thing, e.g. you are presenting in the room with (some of) the lights turned down. A dark screen… well just makes it too dark in the room.

  3. Gavin Meikle, Trainer, Speaker & Coach on 23/05/2007 at 17:36

    Hi Bibby
    best wishes from the UK and thanks for your encouraging feedback. Please do come back or better yet, subscribe by email to get the latest posts every day.

    Please pass it on to your colleagues and contacts too.


  4. Biby Cletus on 23/05/2007 at 07:13

    Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

    Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

    Biby Cletus

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