One morning, Scott Harrison, the CEO of Charity:Water, was giving a keynote speech. The auditorium was absolutely jammed. Everyone could feel he was in the groove, in the zone. But then, something went badly wrong.
Or at least I thought it did.
Midway through the talk, everything suddenly ground to a halt. Amid a story full of vivid, colorful imagery, the gigantic screen went blank.
Urrrrghhh. I felt myself cringe in discomfort. Where were the tech team?!
A thousand people’s attention went to the sole figure on the enormous stage.
But he didn’t even flinch.
It was no accident. No tech issue. The screen wasn’t blank - it was pitch black. A single black background marked the end of the chapter. More specifically it marked the nadir - the moment in the story where Scott Harrison hit rock bottom.
He used this simple technique to pull attention back, concentrating the entire room - before unspooling the visual story thread once more.
It was genius. I’d never seen anyone do it before.
In hindsight, it’s obvious. Many other forms of storytelling - books, movies, even albums - use a device like this.
But we rarely see it in presentations.
The blank slide can do all kinds of things:
Next time you’re prepping a presentation, give it a try. You may even want to use it more than once (in moderation, of course…)
Oh, one last thing: The Blank Slide is a paradox.
It takes no time to design. But it also takes the longest time of all.
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