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10 Clever Color Combos That Will Make Your Audience Happy

by Adam Noar

PowerPoint Design Tips - 10 Clever Color Combinations That Will Make Your Audience Happy

Did you know that color affects people’s moods? Think about that the next time you’re deciding what theme to use on a PowerPoint presentation! How to pick colors for PowerPoint and develop a harmonious presentation color palette is one of those not-so-small details necessary to creating the perfect presentation. There are various PowerPoint presentation color combinations, but not all of them are created equal. And having the right balance of complementary colors, or sticking to one particular monochromatic shade, will give your presentation a noticeable harmony and flair that would otherwise be lacking. Before we dive into the specifics and ascend to Color Combo Valhalla, where everything is perfectly shaded and not a single hue is out of place, I would like to share with you a few free presentation design tools that will make picking colors for PowerPoint easy.

First of all is Adobe’s Color CC, an interactive slide wheel that makes it easy to create a perfectly coordinated presentation color scheme in literally one second. You can adjust the wheel to create monochrome, complementary, shades, and compound presentation color palettes, tweaking the wheal however much you want to fit your preferences.

There is also Colourlovers, a website where community-inspired designs, shapes and color palettes can be shared with the public and downloaded for free. Why bother trying to color coordinated your presentation color palette when someone else has already done it for you?

Presentation Design Tips - Color Combinations - Color Palette Resource - ColourLovers

Finally, Design Seeds provides you with inspiration to build seamless color combination palettes based on high resolution photos. What’s super cool about their catalog is that each of the colors that feature prominently in any given image can be searched for in Design Seeds’ database, so if for example an earthy shade of orange catches your eye in a picture of autumn leaves, you can search for other photos that have that exact same shade. You can also search the website for an exact color value using their simple color slider, or search by themes such as winter, rustic, or succulents.

Here are ten more useful PowerPoint design tips to achieve beautiful color combinations for your next slide presentation and make your audience feel alive—which is no doubt better than feeling bored to death!

Color Combination #1. The Getaway

Presentation Design Tips - Presentation Color Schemes - The Getaway

Especially as the days get shorter, the nights get longer, and summer becomes a distant memory, using this color scheme will remind people of those wonderful sunny summer days. Using this image of a beautiful blue beach—in Cornwall, England, of all places—will cheer up your audience and get them excited for whatever you’re about to tell them. A new travel app? Increased fourth quarter sales? The bright blue that dominates this palette will set them alight, while the muted dark gray of the stone in the foreground will keep your audience just grounded enough to keep from completely losing their heads.

Color Combination #2. The Royal

Presentation Color Combination - The Royal

Want your presentation design to give off a regal, posh aura when you make your big PowerPoint presentation? This image provides a great inspiration for a more royal, spiffy approach. The bright cherry red of the ubiquitous London telephone booth is offset by the subdued weathered stones in the background, and the vaguely burnt sienna tone of the font in the booth balance out the composition to create a tone that tells your audience you mean business.

Color Combination #3. The Lighthouse

PowerPoint Design Tips - Color Combinations - The Lighthouse

A photograph like this, with formidable, brooding skies overhead, an elongated empty gravel path, long fieldstone walls, and of course the lighthouse rising up against the horizon, tells a dramatic story. Slate gray is the primary color here, and it relies on a secondary light gray to add depth and touches of sky blue and hunter green for comic relief. If your presentation color scheme looks like this, your ideas should be bold, foundation-shaking, and ultimately offer hope to your audience. If you’re not really sure about using those shades, don’t forget that you can find plenty of useful presentation design tips here.

Color Combination #4. The Mountain Sunset

PowerPoint Design Tips - How to pick colors for PowerPoint - The Mountain Sunset

In this muted yet dramatic presentation color scheme, looming mountains with a bright orange sunset lighting up the sky behind them serve as the inspiring basis for the sort of presentation that delivers concrete, factual data. The emphasis of dark earth colors gives off a solemn, bedrock vibe to your presentation, and no one will be taking you lightly when you discuss your findings with your audience. Since an entirely dark presentation color palette makes for boring viewing, that splash of orange will go a long way towards brightening up your slide and leaving your viewers basking in the glow of the next great idea.

Color Combination #5. The Flower

Presentation Color Palette - The Flower

What’s so great about using flowers as inspiration for picking a vibrant color palette is that they epitomize nature’s perfect composition and geometry. Depending on what sort of effect you are looking for, using the image of a flower will give your slide a balanced yet eye-catching visual stimulus to your audience. In this particular case, the soft creamy white evokes a calming sort of mood, the bright fuchsia at the center of the flower delivers a pop of color that’s best reserved for small details and accents in your presentation slide, while the complementary colors of brown and gray that you see in the blurred background of the image are there to keep your slide from appearing too over-the-top or whimsical. If you are looking for more great images of flowers to use as the basis for your color scheme, Design Seeds has a section devoted solely to stunning for a.

Color Combination #6. The Apple Orchard

Presentation Design Tips - Color Combinations - Apple Orchard

A balanced presentation color scheme for just about any type of subject matter, this image of a deliciously green apple hanging on a branch in an orchard gives depth to your presentation with its earthy shades of green. The additional brown and dark grey shades underscore the brightness of this lush fall fruit and keep the palette from appearing too verdant or too yellow—a perfect example of neutral colors doing their job and making sure that lighter spots do not dominate an image composition and wash out the slide by being too bright. Vice versa, the yellow and green shades are super important because they prevent the slide from being boringly monochromatic—and no monochrome is more of a downer than brown.

Color Combination #7. The Vintage

Color Combinations PowerPoint - Vintage

Sometimes you just gotta go retro. With this vintage style image, the emphasis is on colors that are normally too aggressive to display at full brightness. But on the more muted end of the color saturation scale, there is enormous potential here to make a standout presentation slide that is both classy and eye-catching. The piece de resistance here are the rich shades of plum purple and mustard yellow (reminiscent of the characters of Clue, if you think about it), which evoke musty, velvety old memories of your grandma’s living room sofa. The placement of the vintage Nikon camera with film canisters and the faded old rose and its paper-thin petals, as well as the delicate leaves from the rose, are perfect inspiration for creating a presentation design that relies on robust, deep colors that convey some sort of nostalgic emotion and elegance. Of course, there are many other vintage types of color combinations that would look great on your presentation slide, so to learn more about how to select the right color combos and other important PowerPoint design tips, click here

Color Combination #8. Red Brick House

Presentation Color Palette - Red Brick House

Using the color red in your presentation color scheme is a decision that you should not make lightly. Red has been scientifically proven to be the color most associated with winning—which is great news for anyone preparing a slide presentation to show to potential investors or clients. Red is associated with passionate emotions, such as love and lust, but on the other side of the coin, it is also the color that represents anger. That being said, you should not be afraid to use red as the centerpiece of your composition, and this image is a useful way to show how this bold color can benefit you. The key here, as is often the case, is not so much with the primary color choice, but what secondary and complementary colors are used to balance it out. If you decide to make red the focal color of a presentation slide, make sure to include a few strong neutral colors to take off the edge a bit; here that is accomplished with the inclusion of the beige/tan doorway, the plain gray concrete at the base of the image and the off-white window sill and bike frame, and just a few touches of dark color—black in addition to a deep shade of purple–in the wiring running along the top of the image and the tires, handles, and seat of the bicycle. In the end, the effect you have from this color combination is bold and signifies some really big ideas, but without seeming too aggressive and in-your-face. You want to impress clients with your presentation, not scare them away!

Color Combination #9. The Hipster Coffee Shop

Presentation Color Schemes - Coffee House

This slide is a perfect example of how sticking to (mostly) neutral tones can allow for a rich, beautiful color palette, despite there not being any one super-popping color. Most of the color here is inspired by deliciously woody tones brown and black; the cup of coffee and the big ol’ heaping pile of coffee grounds being two super obvious points of inspiration, but also more subtle touches, such as the scraped wooden surface, the thin bar of creamy brown milk chocolate, and even the shadowy side of what looks to be a deliciously buttery and flaky croissant. On the opposite side of the color wheel from all these super dark shades are the white-bound hardback book that acts as a serving tray for the pastry and the chocolate, and there is also a pile of white sugar crystals that contrast starkly against the coffee grounds and surface of the table. Finally, the chipped peach yellow painted surface of the table breaks the neutrality just enough to keep the whole thing from feeling monotonous. When you implement a color palette like this onto a slide presentation you’ll achieve a color balance that is adaptable to just about any setting thanks to these classically neutral, versatile tones.

Color Combination #10. The Secret Garden

How to pick colors for PowerPoint - The Secret Garden

What’s going on in this image is pretty easy to spot: lots of bright lilac and lavender tones that don’t completely overwhelm the eye thanks to olive and moss green colors as well as touches of silver-gray in the background. The super charged bright foliage you see here stands out even moreso because of the almost black branches that cede the visual focal point to the many shades of pink and purple that dominate the color scheme. When you splice the different colors in this image into a presentation color slide you should be looking to make a bright, bold impact on your audience. Good news deserves some fireworks, and this is the sort of color palette that will give everyone a reason to smile.


So hopefully you’ve picked up some inspiring ideas to take into your next presentation. Your audience deserves the very best and you should strive to have presentation slides which are effective in conveying your ideas in the best, simplest way possible.

Now that you’ve had your fill of great design concepts such as simplicity and “wowing” your audience, try thinking about how you can incorporate them altogether. What will your next slide presentation look like now?  Let me know what you think below and please try to be as specific as possible. Sound off in the comments below!

Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these presentation design tips? If so, email them the link to this post.

Thanks for sharing and be sure to post this article on Twitter of Facebook as well (by using the sharing buttons to the left).

Inspired to read up on more awesome presentation design trends? Here are some suggested articles:

How to Pick Colors for Your PowerPoint Presentations

5 Tips for Picking a PowerPoint Template That Doesn’t Suck

How to Create Presentation Templates the Right Way

Image Credits

Flickr/Giuseppe Milo/House on the Beach

Flickr/Giuseppe Milo/Telephone Booth

Flickr/Giuseppe Milo/Inisheer Lighthouse

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    Marcin @ infoDiagram


    Good stuff, very useful.


      Presentation Panda


      Awesome Marcin! Thanks for your comment




    How can I get the HEX html numbers for The Getaway color scheme?




        perfect — many many thanks