What's black and white and not read all over? The answer might be your presentation, if you're still using black and white overhead transparencies to convey your message. It's no joke.
What researchers say
According to the research, color communicates more effectively than black and white. How much more effectively? Here's what the research says:
- Color visuals increase willingness to read by up to 80 percent.1
- Using color can increase motivation and participation by up to 80 percent.1
- Color enhances learning and improves retention by more than 75 percent.2
- Color accounts for 60 percent of the acceptance or rejection of an object and is a critical factor in the success of any visual experience.3
- Using color in advertising outsells black and white by a whopping 88 percent.2
What presenters say
Professional researchers, however, are not the only ones talking about color versus black and white. In a recent customer survey, 3M asked overhead transparency users to share their attitudes and perceptions. Here's what these people, who present information with overhead projectors, had to say:
- 50 percent felt that using color made the presenter appear more professional.
- 77 percent agreed that "Presentations that use color are able to communicate better than those that use black and white."
- 72 percent agreed that "Presentations that use color are remembered longer than those that use black and white."
What common sense says
While the statistics are impressive, sometimes we need only look to our own experience to make the most compelling case for color. Think about it. Why are the Sunday comics the most savored and fought over? Even if it were cheaper, would you choose to buy a new black and white television? When you're driving, is it the color red, or the letters "STOP" that make you put your foot on the brake? You probably even use color highlighters to draw attention to important points on printed articles and reports you receive. And you're not alone! Each year over 700 million color highlighter pens are sold to focus people's attention on important information!4
Color's meaning beyond words
And there's a lot more to color than meets the eye. Color communicates, speaks to us in a universal language which sometimes eliminates the need for words altogether. Around the world, color-based signage is used to universally convey meaning. Color is also a powerful device for illustrating similarities and differences: that's why meteorologists rely on color to communicate dramatic weather. And if you've ever tried to read a map that isn't in color, you understand just how much additional meaning and information is carried in those subtle shades.
Easy and inexpensive
Human beings can distinguish millions of colors, and designing a color presentation may seem to be a daunting task. Until the mid-1990's preparing color transparencies was somewhat time-consuming and expensive - but that's all changed recently. With the combination of easy-to-use presentation software that's probably already on your computer, and high-quality color ink-jet printers that now cost less than $200, you don't have to be Pablo Picasso to put color to work for you!
- The Persuasive Properties of Color; Ronald E. Green; Marketing Communications, October 1984.
- Loyola University School of Business, Chicago, IL., as reported in Hewlett-Packard's Advisor, June 1999; (http://www.hpadvisor.com).
- The Power of Color; Dr. Morton Walker; Avery Publishing Group; 1991.
- Industry sales data from the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (http://www.wima.org).