Those of you that watched the Orange Bowl last night may have seen a rather amusing commercial where a guy walks into a copy store with a stack of black and white documents and asks them to be copied on a color copier, ostensibly to add color. Apparently great minds think alike or at least watch the same channel, as Mark over at the Lean Blog also had some comments.
The ad got me to thinking about the value of black and white documents, especially PowerPoint presentations, versus color. Most of us like, or have been conditioned to like, color. Brilliant blues, reds, and even fuschia. Ten, twenty, or even thirty colors to show every conceivable breakdown of an attribute or components of a trend. Just as smaller and smaller fonts can supposedly increase the amount of information on a single page, so can more and more colors. More information equals more value, right?
Does it? Or is it increased complexity?
One of the paramount rules of PowerPoint presentations is to never use a font size smaller than 18. Similarly a bulleted list should contain a maximum of two levels, preferably just one. I personally despise slide transitions, sounds and special effects as they are distracting and you have to wait for them to finish.
Color is nice eye candy, but is it necessary? Does the complexity and distraction of multiple colors actually detract from a clear and deep understanding of a simple message? How much time is spent by you and your team tinkering with various color schemes and finding new and interesting backgrounds? Do you send people to expensive PowerPoint training classes just to teach them how to use transitions, fonts, colors, and backgrounds?
Do your customers, internal or external, really find value in all of that? I doubt it.
How about focusing on the message, the value, instead? How about trying to limit documents, slides, graphs, and charts to just black on white? Could you do it? How much information, how quickly and how deeply, could you convey? I bet you’d be surprised, and at a minimum it would refocus you on your message. Put your time into the analysis, recommendation, and communication instead of trying to create a cornucopia of color.
Your audience, tired of squinting through a kaleidoscope, will thank you. The color blind folks especially (ever think of that?). As an ancillary savings, you could also eliminate all of those expensive color printers and copiers.