We all know there’s no easy button for becoming a successful public speaker. It takes hard work, lots of practice, and a unique blend of science and artistry.

That’s why it’s all the more heartbreaking when you see a good presenter get derailed by their technology. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to apologize for your missed cues and misfires.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Presentation technology can be a blessing, rather than a curse, as long as you know how to use it to your benefit. And while there is no easy button for that either, there are certain buttons that can make your presentations more seamless and make your delivery a lot smoother.

To make sure you’re not letting technology get in your way, here are the 5 PowerPoint shortcuts* every presenter needs to know.

*I’m omitting the truly basic ones that work across all of your applications, like copy/paste and save.

Key PowerPoint Shortcut #1 – Blacking / White-ing the Screen
Sometimes you may need to pause the presentation for a lunch break or to answer a question unrelated to the presentation. In these situations, you can use shortcut keys to display a blank screen and keep your audience’s attention focused on you.

Here are the shortcuts you need to know:
W or comma (while in Slide Show Mode) will turn the screen completely white. Hit either shortcut once more, and you will return to your slide.

B or period (while in Slide Show Mode) will turn the screen completely black. Hit either shortcut once more, and you will return to your slide.

Key PowerPoint Shortcut #2 – Activating the Laser Pointer
When giving your talk, you may have specific elements on your slide that you want to point out to your audience. One great way to do that is to use a laser pointer – and PowerPoint provides one directly within the software.

While in Slide Show Mode, hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and click and drag with your mouse. Doing so turns on the laser pointer, allowing you to point out things on your slide and focus your audience’s attention.

Here are the shortcuts you need to know:
Hold the Ctrl key and click with your mouse (in Slide Show Mode).

Key PowerPoint Shortcut #3 – Inking Your Slides
Some of the best tools native to PowerPoint when presenting in front of an audience – whether on a webinar or in a room – are the inking tools.

You can use these tools to highlight parts of the slide, add notes, diagram elements in, etc.

The inking tools include the pen and the highlighter.

Here are the shortcuts you need to know:
Ctrl + P (while in Slide Show Mode) will activate the pen, allowing you to write / draw on your slides. Hitting CTRL + P a second time will turn the Pen off.

Ctrl + I (while in Slide Show Mode) will activate the highlighter, allowing you to highlight / draw on your slides.

Ctrl + M (while in Slide Show Mode) will hide all the ink on your slide. If you use the shortcut a second time, you will make the ink re-appear.

E (while in Slide Show Mode) will erase all the ink on your slide.

Pro Tip: Be careful when erasing the Ink on screen as there is no way to un-erase that ink. If you typically want to save the ink on yours, memorize the CTRL + M shortcut instead as it merely hides the ink.

Key PowerPoint Shortcut #4 – Launching Presenter View
Presenter View is a great alternative to Slide Show Mode, allowing you to play your presentation for an audience.

I love using Presenter View, because it allows you to do several things:
1. See the slide that your audience is viewing so that you can address that slide,
2. See the notes you have for that slide,
3. Preview the next slide to prepare you for what’s to come,
4. View the time and duration of your presentation, and
5. Use the laser pointer and ink features to mark up your presentation.

Knowing how to jump straight to Presenter View from a shortcut allows you to launch it on the fly and be ready to start your talk at any point.

Here are the shortcuts you need to know:
Alt + F5 to launch Presenter View from the first slide.

Additional Pro Tips:
1. This is a great view for reviewing your slides before a presentation to spot check them for errors.
2. Best practice is not to overly rely on this view, as you want to be looking at your audience – not looking at your screen, which is just as bad as reading your slides.

Key PowerPoint Shortcut #5 – Jumping to a Slide in Your Presentation
When you give a presentation, your talk doesn’t always end up going according to plan. And you want to be prepared in case that happens.

There are some situations when you will need to jump around in your presentation. For instance, say you are on slide 50, and your audience puts a question that requires you to jump back to slide 20.

Pressing Page Up 30 times is time-consuming and looks unprofessional. That’s why PowerPoint has two handy methods for doing so efficiently.

The first method is to simply type the slide number in, and then hit Enter (Ex. “20 Enter”).

The second method is to use the All Slides dialog box. This feature allows you to visually see all the slides within your presentation so you can immediately jump to the correct one. This is handy when you want to move forward or backward quickly within your presentation and you don’t know what the slide number is.

Here are the shortcuts you need to know:
Slide number + Enter (while in Slide Show Mode) will jump you to that slide.

Ctrl + S (while in Slide Show Mode) will launch the All Slide dialog box.

Why Shortcuts Matter
Creating a PowerPoint presentation is no small task! It requires juggling all sorts of PowerPoint stuff like charts, tables, pictures, object formatting, text, and shapes, and then there is the delivery of the presentation itself. On top of that, you’re expected to have it all done yesterday!

It’s all about trying to get more done in less time. And that’s where PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts come in handy.

With a little bit of practice, PowerPoint shortcuts will seriously cut down your build time, make your slides look more polished and professional, and get you to Happy Hour faster.

For more of the top PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts, check out my in-depth Favorite 80 PowerPoint Shortcuts article.

About the Author:
Camille Holden is the Co-Founder and CEO of Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, where she helps busy professionals save PowerPoint hours and gain peace of mind. As an expert trainer and coach, she is passionate about empowering people who are short on time but big on ideas with the tools to truly master PowerPoint and create presentations that work.

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