How Does the Background Color Affect the Retention of Information on a PowerPoint Presentation?

Color plays an important role when you’re making a PowerPoint presentation. The colors you use, how they’re viewed by your audience and how different colors interact with one another play impact the visual appearance of your presentation and how successful it will be.

Choose presentation colors that won't distract the audience.

Color can influence the way your audience views your presentation and how much information they’re able to retain. You can learn to choose and tweak the background colors of your next presentation in order to make a lasting impression on your audience.

Effect of Colors

Particular colors have distinct psychological effects on people. Red, for instance, will make a person’s adrenaline surge; his pulse, blood pressure and energy level will all go up. Orange makes people hungry, and blue helps people to relax as it triggers the brain to release hormones that have a tranquilizing effect. Green makes people feel secure.

Choosing Colors

The background color of your PowerPoint presentation should reflect the presentation itself, your professionalism and your audience while taking into consideration the different effects of colors. For example, if you’re giving a presentation that’s accompanied with a food tasting, orange would be a great color to add to the background. However, if you want your audience to pay close attention to you instead of their grumbling stomachs, you’ll want to stay away from orange.

Studies of the Effects of Colors on Memory

Certain colors can improve a person’s memory for both pictures and words. This means that people in your audience will walk away from your presentation having learned a lot of information that they’re remember in the future. According to BNet, a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that color will boost a person’s memory and help them retain information. Participants in this study were shown the same number of color and black and white photographs, and were later asked if they’d ever seen the photos before. The naturally colored photographs were more often remembered, but photographs that were colored "falsely" weren’t remembered any better than the black and white photographs.


Make sure to choose a font color that will show up on your background. Even if you have the best background choice, it won’t matter if your audience can’t read your presentation. High-contrast combinations include green text on a purple background, white text on a black background or purple text on a yellow background. Be sure to test out your presentation beforehand -- it may look different when it’s projected onto a large screen in a dark room.