The Effective Sales Presentation is an excellent blog by Jean-François Messier. It is one of the only sales presentation blogs I can find. Since I am in sales, do a lot of presentations, and have a passion for presentation design, I am always keenly interested to see what he has to say.
A couple of weeks ago Jean- François re-posted an article by Phil Waknell which discussed what type of background is better for your slides, 5 Reasons Why Black Is The New White. He believes that a dark/black background is better for a variety of reasons:
1. A black background won’t fatigue your audience, whereas a white background can be hard on the eyes.
2. A black background will keep them focused on you since your eyes are naturally attracted to the “bright” light.
3. Smile – you’re on camera; black backgrounds work better if you are being recorded on video.
4. You may have “slides without borders” - photos that don’t fit the slide have a bright white frame around them.
5. You will stand out from the crowd since the majority of “bad” presentations have white backgrounds.
I agree with the points which support the use of black backgrounds on slides, but there is one other factor to consider. I think that there are instances where a white background may be best for someone who creates their own presentation visuals. Garr Reynolds comments on the background color of slides in his book Presentation Zen Design. He says that since most stock images have white backgrounds, the images can easily be used on a slide with a white background. I think the majority of people who create their own presentations have minimal training in presentation design, no Photoshop on their computers, and no access to graphic designers… therefore slides with a white background are easier to work with. You can find great professional stock images on sites like iStockPhoto.com.
In her book Slideology, Nancy Duarte talks about two factors which determine background color: the formality of the event and the venue size. She believes that black backgrounds are most appropriate for formal events and large venues. Since the majority of presentations in organizations are in smaller meeting rooms and in an informal setting, a white background is probably appropriate. Of course the key is to have a high contrast between your background and any words you may have on your slides.
I wonder though - should you mix black and white backgrounds in one presentation?
Refuse to be boring