10+ keyboard shortcuts to help you deliver a smooth PowerPoint presentation

You don't need to get distracted by the mechanics of presenting a slide show. Learn just a few shortcuts and you can focus on your audience and your message instead.

How do you feel about standing in front of an audience — even a friendly one — to give a talk and run a slide show? If you’re just slightly nervous, things will probably be fine, assuming there are no technical glitches and you don’t lose your speaker’s notes. But if you’re an audience-shy basket case, remembering how to back up to the previous slide while having an out-of-body stage-fright experience is likely to escalate into a full-scale meltdown. Not that I speak from personal experience.

We have published a number of articles aimed at helping people create and deliver effective presentations. (A few links appear at the end of this entry.) And nearly all of them include the words "Be prepared." They generally mean you should know your subject backward and forward and make sure your presentation will run on the provided equipment.

I’d like to expand that a bit: Learn to drive PowerPoint so well you could do it in your sleep, and you’ll have one fewer thing to worry about.

Here are some simple shortcuts to master so that you can give your undivided attention to the Presentation Angel on one shoulder ("Slow down, make eye contact, don’t read your notes like a zombie; you're doing fine") and the Presentation Devil on the other ("Is your fly zipped? Why are your hands shaking like that — are you holding a belt sander? Did your boss just roll his eyes on his way out the door?")

Note: This article originally appeared as an entry in our 10 Things blog. It's also available as a PDF download.

The shortcuts

Action Shortcut
Start presentation from first slide F5
Run the next animation or advance to the next slide Enter or Spacebar (or click the mouse)
Return to the previous slide Backspace
Jump to a particular slide Type the slide number and press Enter
Jump to the first slide Home
Jump to the last slide End
Go to a black screen or resume slide show from a black screen B (or period)
Go to a white screen or resume slide show from a white screen W (or comma)
End a slide show Esc or - (hyphen)
Erase annotations from a slide E
Change pointer to a pen (and display it and the Popup Menu button, if hidden) Ctrl + P
Change pointer to an arrow (and display it and the Popup Menu button, if hidden) Ctrl + A
Hide the pointer and the Popup Menu button Ctrl + H
Hide the pointer and the Popup Menu button after 15 seconds Ctrl + U
Display the shortcut menu Shift + F10
Jump to the next hyperlink on a slide Tab
Jump to the previous hyperlink on a slide Shift + Tab
Launch selected hyperlink Enter

Presentation resources