Use Red to Sway an Audience to Your Side

It’s Valentine’s Day and what better time to review the research on the color red to move an audience. Red has a lot of power to sway people over to your way of thinking, if you use it correctly.

Just ask Olympic athletes who compete in taekwondo matches. It turns out, when the fighters are evenly matched, the judges give the win to the red fighter over 60% of the time, even though the colors are assigned to the fighters randomly!

German researchers tested a theory – does red affect the judges’ votes? They showed expert judges video of two fighters, let’s call them Ron and Brad. Ron wore red and Brad wore blue. As expected, Ron won most of the matches.

Then the German researchers did something clever. They digitally re-colored the video so the colors were reversed: now Ron was wearing blue and Brad was wearing red. Would the judges still give more points to Ron? Or would Brad’s red uniform sway the judges over to his side?


The result: the judges now awarded more points to Brad, the fighter wearing red, who was deemed to have lost more matches when he wore blue. This effect has also been seen in American football, Olympic boxing and wrestling, as well as soccer.

So when you want to convey social dominance, use red on your slide.

In another study, men were shown pictures of women and asked to rate how attractive they were, how much they would spend on a date with them, and so on. When the woman was wearing a red blouse, or even when her picture had a red border around it, men rated her as more attractive and worthy of more of their date money.


So if you want to excite an audience, use red on your slide. Red is a great sales color because it makes people feel excited and they mistake that excitement for interest in your product.

Learn more about how to use color to influence your audience in my book Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

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