Master Your Message Blog

Why Screen Contrast is SO Important

The primary objective of presentations is NOT to be pretty. The primary objective is to persuade or impart information.

Pretty but busy slideI mean, they CAN be pretty, but if pretty (or busy) gets in the way of the message, it’s a problem!

Sometimes what you think is a brilliant idea, just doesn’t make it in the implementation stage. Remember, screen real estate is dear. There’s never enough of it.

Well, in fact, the information you put on the screen should not need any more space than what’s available. And that brings us to the first of two major rules:

  1. Less is More.  Each screen should support one point and only one point. Don’t try and put everything you can think of up there. Who’s going to remember it? Nobody. It serves only to clutter up your presentation and obscure the really important point.
  2. Light text on a dark background. We see light, not darkness. Therefore, the most important elements on your screen should be the lightest.

Example – a slide produced for a convention held at a baseball stadium. Great theme – the bases are loaded. But then the trouble begins.

White background projectedFirst all, it’s dark text on a white background. That makes it hard to read. But when you project this, the faded baseball park image in the background just disappears. The projector and screen will eat up 10-15% of the contrast. And if there are lighting problems in the room (and in hotels, there usually are), it can be even worse.

Subtle doesn’t work in speaker support. You can quote me on that.

Now, the text . . . orange on white … light orange at that. Doesn’t make it. If I’m in the back row of a 300 person audience, which was the case here. I’m going to have trouble reading the most important elements of this slide – the statistics!

OK, now what if I reverse the text and background. Well … better … but the orange text? Try yellow. Yellow on a dark background – arguably the best colour combination for contrast.

It’s the message that’s the important thing. Don’t get so cute you lose the message. Contrast is critical.

What do you think?

Comments for this Post

Leave a Comment