Visual Oompf!

Post 2: Colour Scheme

Opening a new presentation and facing the vast, white abyss commonly known as the FIRST SLIDE can be intimidating. My go-to colour scheme evokes the spirit of Chanel, Yohji Yamamoto, Apple (for those not so fashion fixated) and all the other designers who perfected the crisp, simple, monochromatic look.

Branching out beyond this clean design is not for the faint of heart. We are all aware of the faux pas attached to using those tempting presentation templates. Yes they look trite, but there is just something about a seamless “look” that I believe many of us still long for.  To help those wishing to break free of template confines or to support presenters hoping to move beyond the dull humdrum of an un-styled slide, today I present Visual Ooompf’s take on colour scheme.

The most simple way to employ the classic monochromatic colour scheme involves three things: 1) use a light background 2) use black font, and 3) keep clutter (excess text, photos, colour etc) at bay.

(Example monochromatic colour scheme)

If this concept of traditional colour usage makes you yawn, I encourage you to take the next step and enter the exotic world of accent colour. While remaining true to your clean design, using an accent colour involves selecting one strong colour or shade to oompflify words or other graphic elements on your slide. The key to this technique is restraint – too much of this punchy colour is likely to offend.

 (Example accent colour)

For those wanting to go even further, I recommend working with the complete colour spectrum with some help from the experts.

“Borrow” a colour scheme. Have you ever noticed that websites can just look old even though we haven’t even read the content? It seems our brains are wired to recognize the look of early 2000 web design. To avoid this pitfall, next time you are at a website you admire…look at what colours they use and how they use them. Did you know that Powerpoint can recreate the colours you see online? In your toolbox, look for the “eye-dropper” tool when you are selecting your fill or text colour.  Simply highlight the text or shape you wish to recolour, click on the colour you are lusting after and voila, it’s done!

For those of you who wish to totally geek-out with colour, check out the latest colour scheme trends on On this site you can browse reels of palettes and even download images of the palette to use for your presentation.

 (Example of “borrowing” a colour scheme from a website)

You may think you are out of the dark (heehee) with your snappy colour scheme, but there is still a battle to be fought – implementation. Many people understand the basics of contrast, and saturation, but when implementing your colour scheme, make sure you do so with a critical eye. Back in my clothes hawking days, I learned the hard way what the wrong colour choice could mean. Using a red sharpie to mark down price tags, I was later chastised by my boss who boomed, “Writing in red means no money!”  This is a lesson that can also be applied to your presentations. Yes, colour design is subjective, but from my experience, I have found it is worthwhile to explore what colour theorists say about basic colour hues, tones and the different ways your audience may perceive the colours you choose.

To enter the world of “Technicolor” in your presentations you do not need the drama of a tornado, a falling house or a squished witch like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. You need only to be curious and confident enough to take some risks.