Add Meaningful Colors to Your PowerPoint Presentation


Since time immemorial, colors have reinforced our emotions, disposition and decisions. Dark clouds on a workday prod us to bring raincoats or umbrellas to the office. Vibrant flowers in springtime bring about a delightful ambiance. Universal traffic lights signal pedestrians to stop or cross the lane.

This concept of color reinforcement should be thought through when creating a PowerPoint presentation. To make the visual material more effective, designers or speakers should ponder if their choice of colors enhances the viewer's concentration, learning and knowledge retention.

To help you reflect on the possible impact of selected hues, here are color facts worth noting:

Colors create a significant impression

Among the five senses, sight is the most responsive to marketing tools. The eyes see and examine the product's qualities, most especially the color.

In a study conducted by The Michael Allen Company, results showed that colored receipts increased attentiveness to promotions by 165%, sales by 158%, and customer loyalty by 62%. In another study conducted by Seoul International Colour Expo, more than 80% of the consumers consider color when choosing a brand.

From these researches, we can deduce that colors possess a power. When used correctly in a presentation, they can considerably increase audience attention and participation.

Colors have a language of their own

Colors form part of non-verbal communication - the process of exchanging wordless messages between people. Though they don't have anything to do with the content of the presentation, they subconsciously evoke an emotion that affects the mood and behavior of the viewer.

A number of websites have extensively outlined the psychological properties of colors. From these resources, we can possibly relate red to excitement or warmth, blue to a calming effect, and yellow to enthusiasm or cognitive stimulation. It tells us that colors go beyond basic aesthetics. Each hue has an underlying message that speakers must maximize to emphasize the main points in their presentation.

Picking the Right Colors

Choosing a color for the background, font and graphics of a presentation can be tricky. But to clarify things right off the bat, it will all depend on your answers to the following questions:

  1. What message do I want to convey? Topic is of primary importance when selecting hues. Are you talking about environmental conservation? Then green shades will be perfect for it. Are you giving a lecture about enlightenment or royalty? Pick purple. Are you trying to make potential customers feel secured with your insurance products? Try gray. Are you trying to convey your company's brand? Check your logo's color(s).
  2. Who are my audience? If you are presenting to a group of men, you would like to consider a palette dominated by blue as most of them consider it their favorite color. If you are discussing about communism, a tinge of red can reinforce your main points. If you are talking to kids, choose bright color accents. Cultural, age and personal preferences should also be considered when choosing a color for your visual aid.

Apart from these questions, you may also want to remember these guidelines:

  1. Choose a text color that contrasts the background to ensure viewers can read your main points with ease.
  2. When using a vibrant color, complement it with a neutral background. A combination of bright colors causes headache.
  3. Avoid using low contrast colors. The difference may not be visible for the audience, especially if you're speaking in front of a huge crowd.
  4. Using too many colors just distract the audience. Apart from the background, choose two or three more complementary colors.
  5. Text and background colors should also match with the graphics you use for the presentation.

PowerPoint has a number of predefined color schemes you may choose from, but you can also try some experimentation. Just remember that in the end, what matters most can be summarized into an observation by Hans Hofmann, a German-American teacher and painter distinguished for his abstract works: "Colors must fit together as pieces in a puzzle or cogs in a wheel."

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