Are you using colours correctly on your slides, flipcharts and whiteboards when you present in business?

These days most people recognize that you need visual aids to help reinforce your key messages for your audience. In fact, colours have meaning so it’s important that you consider the meaning of the colours you use on your whiteboard, flipcharts or PowerPoint slides. Keep reading to better understand how to use colours when your present:


Dark Blue

Blue is a colour of authority, good fortune, communication, wisdom, protection, spiritual inspiration, calmness, reassurance, water, trust, truth, sea. It is an effective colour for headings and content you are confident about. Combining dark and lighter shades of blue creates a conservative and sophisticated look. Combinations of light and dark blue can create feelings of trust.



Red is a colour that denotes energy, strength, passion, courage, fire. Red tends to promote images and text, making objects appear larger and closer. Red makes the word stand out. It makes a ‘bold’ statement and is good for highlighting a key word in a bullet point slide, or for highlighting a particular part of a graph or pie chart. Bright red can be annoying and painful if used as a background colour to your slides.



Green suggests creative, organic, earth, physical healing, monetary success, abundance, fertility, magic, growth, food, hope, personal goals, renewal, youth, stability, endurance, freshness, nature, environment, tranquility, refreshing, quiet, health, healing, good luck. Green represents growth, movement, not good for key points, rather use it for less critical information on a graph or chart.



Black signifies formality, sophistication dramatic power, facts, strength, elegance, formality, authority, prestige, grief, anger, reliability, classic, anti-establishment, modernism, night. It is good for outlines and as a base drawing colour. Over a large area, black can be depressing. Use for text rather than backgrounds because black backgrounds can enhance perspective and depth, but they diminish readability of text.



Yellow signifies light, energy, sun, intelligence, light, accelerated learning, memory, logical imagination, social energy, cooperation, organisation, breaking mental blocks, sunshine, joy, happiness. Use yellow for emphasis, or for shading in a graph or chart rather than for words. Always use black around a yellow picture.



Purple is the colour of dignity, passion, influence, spiritual power, self assurance, hidden knowledge, high aspirations, royalty, spirituality, nobility, ceremony, mystery, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment, sophistication, and depth. It is an effective choice for highlighting key points. Be careful of using too much purple and blue together because they can tend to overshadow each other.



Orange suggests warmth, energy, balance, enthusiasm, vibrancy, vitality, expansiveness, flamboyance, excitement, business goals, property deals, ambition, career, goals, general success, and justice. Orange is a good choice for less significant points. Some research suggests it is the least preferred colour on slides so use sparingly and ensure you use it away from red.



Dark pink is the colour of passion and energy. Light pink suggests romance, love, friendship, femininity, truth, passivity, good will, emotional healing, peace, calming, affection, emotional maturity, caring, nurturing, delicacy, vibrancy and light. It is a valuable filler colour on graphs or charts or to break up other colours.



Brown is the colour of earth, friendships, special events, hearth, home, outdoors, reliability, credibility, comfort, endurance, stability, grounded. Brown is a good choice as a filler colour to break up other colours. Brown is too low key if used broadly without texture or another color to enhance it.


The next time you use a flipchart, whiteboard, or slides be sure to use your colours wisely. If you’re keen to use the gorgeous flipchart markers that most Master trainers like me use in Australia contact Estillo and ask for Edding 800 markers: Happy Presenting!


About Michelle Bowden

Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best selling internationally published author (Wiley), editor of How to Present magazine, producer of Michelle Bowden TV, and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media.