How to use colour effectively on your slides

Blog post by David Bliss, Head of Learning at Edison Red…

When putting together a presentation, your use of colour may seem like an afterthought – a superficial flourish. But actually it can have a very significant impact…

One of the difficulties when presenting is holding the attention of the audience and getting your information to resonate and stick. Colour is a very powerful stimulus. When used effectively, colour can aid comprehension and memory retention; it influences the way we see and process information and improves our ability to remember both words and pictures.


We learn to read the world in colour before we learn to read, and we instinctively associate certain colours with certain feelings – think of the sharp yellow of wasps and bees that is often used in warning signs to exploit our natural instinct to take heed.

Though everyone perceives colour differently, it can be used to influence emotions and perceptions, which is why marketers often look to colour psychology to communicate brand personality. Follow these tips to make the most of colour in your presentation…

Emotional colour chart

Structure your information with colour

Use a different colour to represent different levels of information – use one colour for main ideas or themes and another colour for secondary or subordinate ideas.

Draw the eye

Use an eye-catching key colour to draw attention to a particularly important piece of information.

Avoid clashes

There are some colour combinations that are jarring for the eyes – think red text on a green background. Make sure your content is easy to read.

Use a colour wheel to discover complementary colours

Provide contrast

Use contrasting colours to make the text or object stand out. Dark text works well on a light background.

Keep it simple

Using too many colours can appear chaotic and swamp the audience with too much stimuli.

A final thought...

Appearances aren’t everything, but they can be very powerful. You wouldn’t turn up to an important presentation looking as if you had dressed in the dark, and neither should your slides. Next time you present, try devoting just a small amount of time to focusing on colour and design to complement your content – and see what difference it makes...


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