PowerPoint lessons from Varoufakis

On May 17, 2015 – former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis gave a keynote presentation in Brussels for a business club.

Afterwards, he posted the video and the PowerPoint slides that he used as two separate files on his personal website.

This was obviously well meant as good Public Relations. However, it backfired on him. People (not present at the presentation) noticed the complex slides and commented about it on Twitter (see screenshot above). Instead of support for his ideas and strengthening credibility, it further damaged his already tarnished image.

By posting the presentation material on internet he did prevent one annoying common problem: looking at an online video where the spreaker uses slides that are not visible for the viewer.  But… by resolving it this way – he created another problem.

In this case – the slides are visible. But as a seperate download (see screenshot below – as taken from his website). And, even though it is on the same webpage, it isn’t integrated with the talk. And that’s when it gets tricky. The slides can take on a life of their own – as it did.


Tip 1:  be careful what you use as a hand-out.

Ensure that your slides – that are meant as visual support of your story – never get separated from your story. In other words: next time that people ask you for a copy of your slides – never say ‘yes’ automatically. If you do want to provide a hand-out, make sure that you have a document ready that can stand on its own.

In this case, for instance, the slides could have been incorporated in the video with some simple editing.

Tip 2:  No Comic Sans

If you want to be taken serious – never use the Comic Sans font – as in the slide presented above (economic reforms). Comic Sans was designed for comic books. By using this font, you subconsciously decrease the value of your message.

Tip 3: Make it readable

The presentation itself consists a lot of copy and paste images. Nothing wrong in itself. But there is a risk that in the process, letters become too small to read. This is what happened here. A quick fix could be to retype the most important words and place them on top of the original words.