Building the perfect slide - colors

Creating slides: What do colors have to say?

For most people, it seems impossible to prepare a presentation without slides. Building them is a work of patience, and all details are important, especially the colors. They are also sending a message.

Due to the world health situation we’re living in right now, most presentations are on-line, through virtual platforms. Often, slides are the only element the audience will actually see. They have to give your audience the right feeling for the message you want to transmit.

The importance of color

When building a document (in this case, a slide), the use of color has a tremendous impact on how your audience will perceive it. A good choice attracts people, fosters interest, and increases their motivation and willingness to receive your message.

Using different colors helps to emphasize certain information, concept, or image. It makes it easier to understand images, text, and graphs. Different colors make it clear the differentiation between the elements, giving them an order or a hierarchy when needed. They increase the learning ability, memory, and recollection of the audience. It also makes them feel that you’re a professional and that you respect them.

Building the Slides

When you start building your slides, keep in mind that the letters’ color should contrast with the background – when in doubt, use a white background and black letters. This high contrast pair helps to make it easy to read what’s written. A white background also makes the potential images on the slides easier to observe.

Be careful with the shades you choose. Remember that what you see on your laptop screen is different from what your audience will see in the projection. Prefer strong and pure colors, without many shades.

If you opt for using more than one color, try to be specific in their use. For example, if you’re presenting two versions of a product, choose a color for each version. Remain faithful to your choice until the end of the presentation. If you’re presenting the annual results to your company, have different colors for positive and negative ones.

There are also some combinations that you should avoid: red/pink, green/blue, purple/green. They will make your slides more difficult to read.

The symbolism of Color: They have a meaning

Each color has symbolism and associate feelings. These feelings can be negative or positive depending on the context, so you need to pay attention to it and be sensitive about your audience’s particularities. Using this “color code” properly can help you to get your message across.

Culture can influence some details. Keep in mind that the following information applies mostly to western countries. If you’re giving a presentation in a foreign country, try to do more detailed research on the topic.

For a simplified summary, click on the image.


The color red is connected to strong feelings, such as passion and dynamism. It shows strength, and it is connected to revolutionary movements. In a more negative perspective, it is connected to war, blood, and fire.

This color stimulates, draws attention, and creates urgency in your audience.


Orange is the color of energy, activity, and optimism. It also stimulates and draws attention, but it is more connected with interaction and relationships. It communicates a fun, open mind and expresses freedom.

This color has no negative feelings associated.


What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about the yellow color? For most people, it is the sun. So, yellow is generally connected with sun, Summer, and heat. It is the color of energy and good mood. It can also be connected with royalty and, in some environments, to science.

A softer yellow can have a negative impact, though. It is connected with cowardliness, treason, doubts, and risk. Always prefer a bright yellow.

This color can be quite interesting in some contexts since it has the ability to stimulate and relax at the same time. It is perfect for raising awareness and energizing your audience to take action.


Green is the color of nature. It reminds us of Spring and gives the feeling of safety and balance. It is strongly related to ecology and nature protection.

Avoid tones of green that resemble blue or gray. They turn the color more cold and aggressive.

The feeling of balance provided by this color helps to revitalize and encourage your audience.


Blue is the most used color for flags around the world. That’s because this color is connected with justice and tranquility. It also has a strong connection with faith and spirituality.

On the negative side, some blue tones can bring feelings of melancholy. Keep in mind that this color can make you and your company look more conservative. It can be a good thing in some fields but a disaster in others. Please pay attention to it.

The impact on your audience is mostly positive. Blue reduces stress and creates order and security, making them feel calm and relaxed.


Purple is a color to use carefully. It is connected with nobility and power, but it also brings big negative feelings such as oppression and superstition.

Yet, used in the right context and with the right audience, it can be inspirational. It encourages creativity and impresses with luxury.

Keep in mind that the way it is perceived is highly related to the audience and their experiences. In case of doubt, don’t take the risk.


Like purple, black has some strong negative feelings associated, such as death and despair. Yet, it is less risky to use due to its more universally positive meanings.

Black is strongly connected to luxury, rigor, and solidity. It passes a feeling of importance and also has an artistic dimension connected to it.

This is the color of authority and mystery. It can also intimidate your audience, so balance that feeling by keeping a more open posture.


Pink is the most used color in women and baby products. It is related to beauty and fashion, yet, be very careful when using it.

The impact of colors is connected to society and its evolution. You must know your audience and their beliefs; otherwise, you may be in trouble. For example, a feminist audience can consider you (or your company) too sexist, or best case scenario, conservative. Never use pink just because your main audience are women.

This color communicates energy, motivates action, and encourages creativity. It is the color of compassion and love, but it can also be connected with immaturity.


Brown is the color of comfort, stability, and honesty. It transmits safety and confidence.

Your audience will perceive you as a reliable person with common sense. This creates some warmth. On the negative side, brown suppress emotions.


Gray is a risky choice since this color is unemotional and detached. Yet, it is regularly used in combination with other colors since it provides good contrast.

If you intend to look neutral and formal, this is the color for you. It is connected with a conservative and quiet personality. Your audience will perceive you as a mature and practical person.

The Meaning of Colors

When it’s time for slides and graphics, you can’t ignore that they are influenced by personal taste. Yet, there are unavoidable symbols and meanings in colors that will impact your audience, no matter their personal taste.

Just life body language tells more than your words, also colors send a message to your audience. They induce certain images and connotations that influence your communication, and those cannot be ignored.

Cátia is a psychologist who is passionate about helping children develop and train social skills.


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