presentation splash slide
one of my splash screens – for a presentation about better presentations, funnily enough!

What should you put on your first slide? You know the one, the one that’s up there before your presentation. It might be there while your audience come in or just for a few minutes at the start of your turn, if there’s a speaker before you. Your mileage will vary of course because of your circumstances, but here are a few ideas that I’ve used over the years – and a few that I’ve seen other people use that I’m going to adopt the first chance I get!

Use your PresenterView

PresenterView (or slide notes) is when you set your laptop up to show something different to what the audience sees. It’s a great confidence tool and a handy way to stay on topic and on time. I’ve written about tit elsewhere.

The ninja trick here though is to use it for yourself as a nag list 😉

Let’s face it, you won’t need notes about your first slide, right? If you can’t remember the name of the presentation and your own name, you’re in trouble … so you can use your PresenterView for something most clever – such as reminders to do certain things. Mine, for example contains these words

Breath, Batman, PV, Zero

Those are reminders for some of my favourite techniques for controlling nerves. (Yes, I get nervous!) It doesn’t have to be that of course – you could put in reminders about props and handouts etc… it’s up to you here!

What not to do with your first slide… unless you have to!

On the off-chance that you don’t want your audience to see your first slide don’t turn off your projector (or TV screen or whatever). Firstly there’s the risk that they’ll power-down if they don’t detect a signal and getting them back up and connected to your laptop takes too long, risks going wrong, and looks rubbish to the audience. Their first impression of you is that you don’t know what you’re doing – no matter how good your content will turn out to be once you get to it!

Remember the Oppenheimer Effect – you don’t want to look technically incompetent! (I’ll blog about this next, but for now, now that people make assumptions about your content’s quality based on your delivery quality.)

B key for blacking out your presentation's slides

You’ve got two options here. The first is to simply hit the B key. This turns your screen black. To start showing your slides again just hit the B key again. (The W key turns the slide white if you prefer but that has all kinds of problems and I can’t think of when you’d need it!

The one I prefer, because it’s slightly more elegant is to put a blank slide at the start of my presentation. There are two main advantages:

  • you can set an animation so that when you move on to your first “real” slide it does so via a fade etc rather than just appearing with a shock to your audience
  • it makes for better timing controls in your PresenterView. If you’re using this, one option is to have a duration timer, which is triggered by your first change-of-slide. You might want your presentation thing to begin when you show your first real slide, not your second one, even if your first real slide is just the name of the presentation

Other things you can do with the first slide

Presentation Tips

Something I’ve done in the past, though I recognise it won’t be applicable in many circumstances, is to put a rotating set of tips onto the slide. Obviously in my case they were presentation tips but you can substitute anything you like. If your presentation is about stress management, for example, you can slip in a few helpful tips about mindfulness. A presentation about marketing? A few easy tips about SEO might be handy. You get the idea.

without presentations your wisdom is a lost library book

If your presentation is more in-house-business in orientation, such as a report to the board, how about a rotating set of headlines from the presentation? “Turnover is up 12%” followed by “Competitor X is about to launch NewProductChallenge”. It’s fun, potentially helpful and if you’re feeling devious you can use it to steer the questions you get at the end of your presentation. Someone is bound to ask about the one thing you put up that you didn’t mention in your presentation!

Note that this might make you look a tiny bit less professional, but see this blog about the advantages of doing that.

Quotes (or quizzes?)

Pretty obviously you can substitute anything you like instead of tips. Quotes might be fun. Questions to get people thinking might work. Let your imagination run here.


You can do this to your tips and things if you like if you’ve got the tech-savvy but there are alternatives. I’ve got a lot of videos of a cartoon version of me giving tips. (We call him smallSimon and he has his own bit of YouTube if you want to check him out.)

It doesn’t have to be like that, of course. For example, you could just get yourself a simple abstract animation.

A quick google search gives you plenty of options. This one is free, from but there are lots to pick from!

Pop your titles over something that moves and you instantly look cooler!

Marketing and other connections

This is a trick I learned from Marketing Coach Charlie Whyman. To help people connect with her, she puts a QR code (Nice and big!) on her splash screen (the proper name for the first slide) so that while people are sitting there they can use their phones to go straight to her LinkedIn profile and connect if they want to.

Of course you can put your QR code to go anywhere, such as a PDF download of your follow-up notes to your presentation (not your slides, never your slides!) or other material that people might find useful.

The QR code here, for example will take you straight to my Reluctant Storyteller page, (GO ON, YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO! 🙂 ) Imagine if you had paid hundreds to go to a conference and were waiting for me to start my presentation on how to use stories better in your presentations (not just tell them!) and you found out I’d got a $13only product – it’s a no-brainer, right?

For the record, that QR code was created for free in Canva. You can’t really beat it, to be honest. Fast, free and functional – what’s not to love!

Your turn?

What’s the coolest/most useful thing you’ve ever seen done with a first slide?

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