The Psychology of Color
Cole Nussbaumer at Storytelling With Data wrote an interesting post last week about choosing between light and dark backgrounds for data visualizations. As Cole mentions, dark backgrounds, combined with bold, heavily-saturated colors, tends to stand out more. They are also easier on the eyes, consequently facilitating better engagement with the data and mitigating attention deficit.
Making Data Beautiful
I would be lying if I said I understood any of this. But in designing information, I only need to understand the structure of the data in order to make it look beautiful. The subject matter expert always has the final say.
I am forever baffled by those designers that say they hate PowerPoint. Microsoft's presentation program can be made to do amazing things. See the video below for examples of transitory animation.
I really do love PowerPoint despite its bad reputation. Armed with a few design principles, just about any presentation can be made to look pretty.