The Importance of Color in Innovative Presentations

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

Sometimes two colors — one light, one dark — lend a stark importance to your innovative presentation data. This has become Apple’s signature presentation style. It’s up to you to decide if it fits with your presentation style, because there’s nothing wrong with using color.

In fact, studies of the psychology of color report that colors affect mood, and everyone from package designers to prison architects consider the correct color to use to garner the desired results.

Usually warm colors (reds, yellows, and oranges) are considered stimulating, creative colors, and cool colors (blues, greens, and purples) are thought to be calming and balancing. When designing your presentation palette, you can also adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness of the colors you choose.

To help you choose a palette of complementary colors, the Color Palette Generator at DeGraeve generates a color palette based on a photo. Or visit Colour Lovers and Adobe Kuler to view a wide range of color palette trends.

When scouring the web for the most recent research, as well as looking at presentations you like, you may find some controversy about choosing a dark or light background color. Overall, our conclusions and recommendations are:

  • Dark room, dark background: In a theater setting for a keynote speech or a professional conference, a dark background with contrasting light-colored text or bright images is easier on your audience’s eyes.

    What’s more, because your eyes are drawn to bright things, if you use a light background in a dark room, your audience’s eyes will focus on — and be distracted by — the light screen and miss the dark images on it.

    Whereas with a dark screen, your audience’s eyes look at and absorb the lighter words and images on the screen but then revert back to focus on you, even if you’re dimly lit by the lectern light.

  • Light room, light background: In a small, well-lit meeting room, a light background makes for a more conversational presentation, similar to using a whiteboard. High-quality LED projectors perfectly display color images on a white or light background.

You can find lots of inspiration by browsing the winners from design competitions; check out the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts).