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Divider and Hold Slides in Presentations

Divider slides are viewed by many presenters as an unimportant – and even frivolous – part of a presentation. A slide containing a bulleted list of discussion topics at the beginning of each section is typically considered sufficient. There are benefits from using divider slides before these lists, however. Divider slides:

  • Provide a clear, visual delineation between sections. Good presentations parse overarching messages into understandable and sequential sections. A divider slide between sections helps the audience take a momentary "breather." The divider slide can help the presenter change the pace of the presentation after the little pause it provides.
  • Refocus the audience on the presenter. As the presenter summarizes the previous section and prepares the audience for the next section, a divider slide – which is nice to look at but has no real content – passively directs the audience's attention back to the presenter.
  • Create tone for the following section. While the divider slides shouldn't have message content, they can convey tone. Pictures, icons, and/or a short phrase can help the presenter prepare an audience for the next section and subtly establish expectations. Of course the photos, icons, or phrases need to be chosen carefully.
  • Substitute a "blank" screen. A common device for refocusing an audience back to a presenter is to throw up a blank (black) screen. A hold slide can be used in lieu of a blank screen. At the point in the presentation where the presenter wishes to remove the visual content, a hold slide can be inserted. The hold slide can be the same as a divider slide, but without reference to sections in the presentation.

Divider and hold slides won't make or break a presentation, but they can be used as a device to provide another layer of message control for the presenter.

It's pretty easy to design divider and hold slides. They should complement the styles and colors in the presentation template, but not be just a version of title or content slides. Divider and hold slides should be understated, even if seeking to establish tone. The following slides are examples of what can be developed.

The two slides below are ideas for section divider slides. They are simple, engaging, but do not require sustained attention. The pictures are visual representations of each section's message.

The layout for each section stays the same, but the picture and text changes.

Another very simple divider slide is below: a tone-on-tone slide with the company name at the bottom.

A slight variation might be to add a subtle graphic that complements the template style or presentation message. The following two slides might spark an idea: they can be used as either divider slides or hold slides. Additionally, they can be used to help establish brand.

The slide below is another design variation for a divider slide.

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Divider slides, when used thoughtfully, can contribute to the strategy of the presentation. Spend some time thinking about their applications and develop a few designs from which to choose. Divider slides can be the same colors; or they can be different colors. In fact, sections can be color coded as an additional navigational device; and the divider slides can help establish the section colors. There are lots of ways to use these devices – you have choices!