Color theory and its significance in presentations

The choice of color you use in your presentations is nearly as important as the content you include in your presentations. Colors can affect us at a subconscious level and can potentially be the difference between someone liking an idea and rejecting it. This is why knowing the basics of color theory and its impact is important to becoming a successful presenter and visual communicator.


The basics of color theory and the color wheel


Color theory can be described as a method using science to determine the colors that go well together and provoke a response in the viewer. The color wheel is a visual representation showing the connection between different colors—this forms the basis of color theory.


Different Color Combinations to use for your slides


Using color theory in your next presentation

 Complementary colors

Complementary colors work well together and improve each other’s intensity. However, you need to be mindful when you are picking these colors. The main rule would be to use one of the colors as the more dominant shade in your slides.

 The 60-30-10 rule illustrates this idea perfectly. This means you should choose a predominant primary color to use in 60% of your slide. The secondary color will be used for 30%, with the remaining 10% reserved for the accent colors. Pick the dominant color based on the emotion you wish to evoke in your audience.


Triadic colors

 With triadic colors, one of the colors is ideally used as a primary color and the other two are used as accent colors. Triadic colors help create more contrast in your slides. The emotion you wish to invoke using triadic colors will be based on the dominant color you choose.

 Shades of red, blue, and green are the most commonly used triadic color combinations. This color combination helps give your slides a more vibrant look while remaining soothing to the eye of the audience. When used correctly, these color combinations give a sense of cheerfulness and professionalism while pushing your audience to take an action, making them ideal for a sales pitch.

 Triadic color combinations might come across a bit youthful and playful, so take care to get the balance between the colors right. As you can see in the Zoho Show presentation template below, Key Lime Pie (#B3D124) is used as a dominant color while Trinidad (#F6590A) and Blumine (#1F497D) are secondary colors.

Digital Strategy template using triadic color scheme.


Analogous Colors

Using an analogous color combination is often pleasing to the eye. This could be because we are so used to seeing these color combinations in the real world. Since they are next to each other in the color wheel, they blend well and help create wonderful designs. Just make sure the color contrast between the three colors you use is prominent enough to make it visually appealing. 

Yellow, green, and blue is a commonly used analogous color scheme that brings a sense of happiness to the audience. These colors can be refreshing, and the blue gives a professional touch to your slides. This combination could work for informative presentations, like a TED talk about how you can master a skill in just 20 hours.

 In the example shown below, the Zoho Show slide template uses an analogous combination of Scarlet (#FC3012), International Orange (#FD5101), and Monza (#D9003D) which gives an important and energetic tone to the slides.

Social Media Strategy template using an analogous color scheme.


Tetradic Colors

 Picking 4 colors that are equidistant from each other on the wheel has its perks and disadvantages. Making use of four different colors can bring a fun, vibrant, and colorful feel to your slides, but care should be taken to ensure the balance between the colors is properly maintained or it can easily become overwhelming.

 Since there are 4 colors used here, this gives you the chance to improvise and come up with different color variations. Shades of red, yellow, blue, and green are a popular example of a tetradic color combination. These bold colors can be used to create vibrant color combinations. One color can be used as a dominant color while others can be used as accent colors. This combination can be used for presentations with visual data in charts and tables, like a quarterly report of a company.

Brand Style Guide template using tetradic color scheme.


Monochromatic Colors 

As eye-catching as these color combinations can be, opting for a monochromatic set of colors for your next presentation might not be a bad idea at all. Picking this color scheme ensures there is consistency across all your slides. Since multiple colors from a single hue is used, it is comparatively easier to focus the attention of your audience. With the popularity of minimalist designs on the rise, this can be an ideal color choice for your slides. 

For example, the color blue conveys emotions such as trust and communication. This color is a popular choice for business presenters since it can create a sense of trust and has a calming effect on viewers. Using a monochromatic blue color scheme can help make your slide look professional.

Marketing Proposal template using monochromatic color scheme.

We live in a visual world, and colors play a key role in any type of visual communication. When you choose colors for your next presentation, keep color theory and these tips in mind to impress your audience better. If you’re unsure about how to choose the right colors for your presentation but want to try different color schemes, don’t worry: Zoho Show offers multiple built-in presentation templates and pre-loaded color palettes.


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