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August 2003 - Using Color in PowerPoint Presentations

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August 2003

Using Color in PowerPoint Presentations

Last month I discussed things to keep in mind as you use PowerPoint slides in your presentations. I concluded by saying, "Color can attract, highlight, contrast or create a feeling or mood. Some research indicates that using color increases willingness to read the visual, retention of the material, and acceptance of an idea. Furthermore, the evidence is clear that color outsells black and white."

This month I want to mention several things to know about the use of color

  • Bright colors are easier to see than pastels.
  • Use of too many colors can give a confused and cluttered effect.
  • Multi colors are useful for many charts, graphs, maps, and such.
  • Use light (white or yellow, for example) on a dark background or dark letters on a light background.
  • A light background will keep the room lighter, but light letters such as white or yellow on a dark blue background are easy to read, as are some other combinations. Aim for ease of readability.
  • Make certain there is contrast. For example, black letters are difficult to see on a dark blue background.
  • Some people experience color insensitivity. Most common is reduced sensitivity to reds and greens-about 10% of men experience this "color blindedness." If you put red letters on a green background, 10% of the men in your audience won't be able to read your slides.
  • Be aware that the colors you see on your computer screen may project somewhat differently on a screen or in a large room. Try projecting your slides before you present. Besides, it's always a good idea to dry run your presentation, and in the room you will be speaking in if possible.

Keep these things in mind as you prepare your next presentation.

(This information was extracted from my book, Speaking Effectively, which Prentice Hall will publish later this year.)

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

August 2003 - Using Color in PowerPoint Presentations
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