Presentation Hack: The Looping Intro Slideshow

When it comes to using slides in my presentations or classes, I'm a minimalist. When I do use slides, they're purposefully and intentionally spartan in design. But that's not really the topic of this blog post; slide design is something altogether different. 

Minimalist also refers to the number of slides. One of the main reason I use such few is because I rely on direction from the workshop participants. I find the linearity of the slide deck narrows me down a particular path, in a particular order. The theme of many of my workshops is promoting non-linearity - which is in direct conflict with that sort of step-by-step process. I prefer whiteboards, flowcharts, chalkboards, and those huge sticky Post-It note pads -- each allowing the class to create the flow and connections between the various ideas in whatever manner they want to! 

The slide decks that I do maintain are used as infrequent resources to be called upon in whatever order is appropriate, not the order in which they're stacked in the slideshow document. I arrange the deck in an order I anticipate the topics or ideas might come up...and then continually rearrange it during breaks and downtime. I find the couple of seconds it may take to find the applicable slide is a worthy tradeoff to the typical click. Click. Click. Click....

I realize this is not the format for some of your presentations or classes. Some of you do not use interactive audience participation, but rely on a one-way keynote or lecture style of presentation. For you, the linearity of Click-Click-Click works because you control the direction of the presentation. 

But here is something that I hope any presenter, keynote speaker, or trainer might find useful: the looping introductory slideshow.

In the time when attendees are arriving to or coming into a class or conference, we have the ability to share information with them via our projected slides. I find it fairly typical for a presenter to use the title slide (usually Slide #1) as the static display. This title slide stays projected for the fifteen (15) minutes before the actual presentation. It's often jam-packed with text, logos, names, organizations, dates...

I do something a bit different - even when I don't have any intention to use slides during the presentation itself:

I assemble an additional slide deck, with usually between three (3) and eight (8) slides...maybe ten (10). Here are some of the typical slide types that I'll use (this is not a template, just a list!):

  • Title
  • Instructor name / contact info
  • Conference name / location
  • Hashtags for social media sharing
  • Organizational logo
  • Recurring diagram or chart or infographic
  • Photos
  • Quotes
  • Sponsors
I then copy the title slide and paste it elsewhere into the deck, so it's seen more often than others. The slide show is put into self-playing mode, with timing on slides. I tend to use twelve (12) seconds as a default for timing on each slide. I play this show as attendees wander in.

Here is an example that I've created to show how I might create a looping intro slideshow for three (3) presenters in a made-up workshop. Notice the title slide returns between each instructor slide:

The above example allows us to maintain clean, minimalist designs on each slide...yet still get the information to the attendees. Compare and contrast this tactic to cramming all this information into a single static slide. 

Here is another made-up example. This is for a single presenter, but also includes a diagram that will be discussed in detail, as well as a page confirming a hashtag for the event or idea. Again, the title slide is repeated between other slides: 

This practice and application of self-playing slideshows is endless. 

Sometimes, I have another self-playing show for when attendees return from a break or lunch, with different or additional slides that summarize or highlight ideas we discussed in earlier modules or segments in the day. I find that attendees often approach the screen and take a better photo or notes -- when a particularly personally-valued slide is displayed.  Each attendee is impacted by different slides, yet each may get an opportunity to get another look at few...even if for a dozen seconds at a time.

So how to transition from the looping slideshow into the actual meat-and-potatoes slide deck?

Take The Caveman & The Professor slideshow as an example. I may stack those same six (6) slides as the first slides in my actual presentation slide deck (with timing features removed!). As the start time approaches, I covertly switch slide decks. The looping show seamlessly transitions right into my presentation's title slide through a couple of well-timed manual clicks on my remote advancer. And then I'm right where I need to be.

I see advantages using this looping intro slideshow tactic in giving presentations and moderating workshops. I hope you can find a use of this little trick in your journey of public speaking too.

What works for you? What do you do differently? Any tricks to share?


On 24 April 2018, I posted a followup piece to this called Your Last Slide(s) - where I use a similar (but not self-playing) tactic for closing or ending a presentation. 


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a police training unit supervisor in suburban Chicago. He studies human performance & decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Follow Lou on Twitter at @LouHayesJr or on LinkedInHe also maintains a LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model.


  1. Another trick I've done, when required to use linear slides, is to have a small button in one corner of each slide that links back to a "table of contents" type slide, (which can be text or images linked to various sections of the deck). Then at any time I feel the interactive discussion heading a certain direction, I can link, within two clicks, to an appropriate section of the deck to go with the discussion.

    1. Yes, great idea. I've heard of that being referred to as a "splash screen." Am I correct?

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