Communicating With Color

by Speaking Tips | January 19, 2004

Color can be a powerful tool for enhancing your presentations.  It can help shape what an audience sees, feels and remembers, and provides presenters with an additional method for communicating ideas and conveying meaning.  Research confirms that color has a strong impact on basic learning behaviors.

Color is convenient and inexpensive to use whether you are in a high or low tech venue. Yet, many people feel insecure about working with colors. What we often fail to appreciate is that we each have a lifetime of experience which began with baby toys and continues through life in nature, art, the media, clothes and furnishings.

Places where you can communicate with color in your presentations and training include:

  • Brochures and announcements
  • Programs and agendas
  • Maps and diagrams
  • Content metaphors
  • Handouts, job aids and instructional materials
  • Visuals aids
  • Physical environment
  • Evaluation and feedback instruments
  • Name tags and name tents
  • Garments the presenter/trainer wears

Objectives you can realize with color in the above places include:

  • Get attention
  • Emphasize a point or point of view
  • Highlight one item in a group
  • Identify specific features of equipment such as the "on" switch
  • Differentiate variables in a graph or chart
  • Signal the transition to a new topic
  • Prioritize information or data
  • Show direction
  • Indicate sequence of operations
  • Group categories of activities
  • Add impact and clarity to drawings
  • Control where the eye goes first and whether it moves vertically or horizontally
  • Identify recurring themes
  • Replicate reality
  • Illustrate structure, relationships and patterns
  • Map routes and destinations
  • Make large collections of data easier to use
  • Speed the sorting of information
  • Help learners recall key information
  • Code information by use
  • Make information in manuals, instruction sheets and job aids easier to find
  • Create or change a mood
  • Help group and re-group the audience for interactive exercises
  • Energize the physical space
  • Give yourself a jolt of energy

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