Issue #172 November 11, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Shortcut keys when presenting

In the workshops where I cover the topic of presenting your persuasive visual slides, one of the areas that gets the most interest is the shortcut keys you can use while you are delivering the presentation. In today’s tip I want to alert you to some of the most useful shortcuts and when you would use them in a business or professional presentation. Probably the most useful key when presenting is the “B” key. Why? Because it allows you to toggle to a black screen at any time. Why would you want to hide your wonderfully created slides? Because sometimes the greatest power comes from the audience focusing only on you. Take away the visual, and they focus more intently on what you are saying. Any time the visual is not relevant to what you are saying, like in a story or when you are answering a non-related question, press the “B” key on your keyboard to make the slide disappear. The “B” stands for the colour “Black”, so if your operating system and PowerPoint is in a different language, your key will likely be the first letter of the word “Black” in your language. Another useful shortcut to know is how to get to any slide almost instantly. There are two ways to do this that do not involve exiting slide show mode. First, if you know the slide number, you can enter the number using the number keys on the keyboard and then press the Enter key. This jumps you directly to that slide, regardless of where it is in the presentation. The second way to jump to a different slide is to press Ctrl+S and then use the list of all slides to select the one you want to view. This is useful if you want to display a slide that answers a question that has been asked, if someone asks you to go back to a slide earlier in your presentation, you need to jump to the last slide if you are running out of time, or if you want to display a hidden slide because it is relevant to the discussion. I think using hyperlinks in your slide presentation is a good idea and can help bring in outside content or enable non-linear presentations that will make your presentation much richer. The challenge is how to activate the hyperlinks on the slide. Most people use the mouse to move the cursor over the hyperlink and then click on the link. This is distracting because the audience focuses on the moving mouse. There is a better way. By pressing the Tab key on your keyboard, you can move to each hyperlink on the slide in sequence. It is like moving your mouse over that link. You will know which link is selected because there is a thin dashed white line around the link text or shape. Once the link is selected with the white dashed line box around it, press the Enter key and the link will be activated just as if you had pressed the mouse button. Hyperlinks allow you to open Word, Excel or PDF documents in the middle of your presentation, access a web site or jump to another presentation, all without leaving the presentation slide show. You can discover more shortcuts by pressing the F1 key while in slide show mode. If you’d like to see these techniques demonstrated along with how to draw on the screen, you can check out the short “how-to” video at . You’ll also find videos on hyperlinking at the same site.