Tell a More Powerful Data Story with the Right Use of Color
TED speakers David Grady and Jason Fried share in this infographic that organizations hold more than 3 billion meetings each year and executives spend 40–50 percent of their working hours—or twenty-three hours per week—in meetings. As a healthcare marketer or strategic planner, you can likely relate to these statistics, as you spend much of your time preparing for, leading, or following up on meetings.
The presentations you create for your meetings can have a major impact on how successful your meetings will be. When your meetings include the delivery of data-based insights, it is especially important for your presentations to include well-designed, colorful visualizations.
“Color, if used correctly, is without a doubt one of the most important tools that we can use within a presentation. It evokes emotions and therefore sets the tone for your presentation,” Maurizio La Cava, Upwork.
Why is color so important? Here are three compelling reasons from The Institute for Color Research:
- When our eyes take in color, the brain is triggered and signals the release of hormones that influence emotions and behaviors.
- Color can be used to improve learning by up to 75% and comprehension by 73%.
- People make a judgment about content in 90 seconds or less; 90% of that is influenced by colors.
Recognizing the power of color to affect the way your presentations will be received, we’ve collected a list of best practices for incorporating color. Armed with these suggestions, you’ll be able to tell a more powerful data story in your next meeting.
Best Practices for Incorporating Color
To become a better visual communicator and create presentations that effectively utilize color, start by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. Your main goal should be to elevate your audience as quickly as possible to your expert level. You can do this by making sure the information you present is reliable, meaningful, and informative. Here are some ways to use color to achieve that goal:
- Use bold, contrasting colors to help your audience read text and data quickly.
- To test contrast, change your visual to grayscale.
- If you want objects in a table or graph to be easily seen, use a background color that contrasts sufficiently with the object.
- But use contrasting colors sparingly, when you want something to stand out. If you overdo the use of bold colors, nothing will stand out!
- Stay consistent.
- Use the same color to highlight the same value through your presentation and only use different colors when they correspond to different meanings.
- If you want different objects of the same color in a table or graph to look the same, make sure that the background—the color that surrounds them—is consistent.
- Know when to use color, and how much.
- Draw your audience’s attention to the important information using borders.
- Use warm colors to communicate energy, optimism, and enthusiasm, and cool colors send a message of dependability, professionalism, and peace. See the chart below from Nayomi Chibana that outlines the meaning these commonly used colors convey.
- Check out this article on the basics of color theory and how to choose the most effective color schemes for presentations, infographics, and other visual content.
- Be mindful of color-blindness. Avoid the most common red/green color blindness where sufferers mix up all colors that have red or green as part of the whole color. Our Average Annual Daily Traffic Map offers the option to switch to colorblind-friendly mode for this very reason, so color blind marketers and planners can still utilize this traffic pattern analysis tool. Ensure that your presentations are created with this group in mind as well.
- Recognize the story you’re telling with the colors you choose. In a survey, people were asked to choose the color they associated with particular words. The chart below from CoSchedule highlights what this survey uncovered. Blue is one of the most preferred colors, with the most positive connotations.
To create a compelling presentation that harnesses the power of color, you can leverage the suggestions in this post to DIY your own or you may find it necessary to employ the help of a skilled graphic designer. For an integrated solution that will combine your data analysis with a well-curated color scheme, Stratasan’s Launch Pathway could be the answer. Launch Pathway provides integrated mapping and presentation-ready visualizations allowing for the creation of easy and attractive reports that take only minutes to assemble.
For more information about how you can access and start using Stratasan’s Launch Pathway to create more compelling, attractive visualizations, schedule a discovery call with one of our experts today.
Article by Morgan Atkins, Director of Innovation for Stratasan