5 Worst PowerPoint Fails from Business and Government


When it comes to entertainment value, the only thing better than an aesthetically stunning PowerPoint presentation is a really bad PowerPoint presentation. Take these five presentation fails from the world of business and government, which demonstrate what happens when someone with no design sensibility takes over presentation duties. More than just providing fodder for a good laugh, these really terrible presentations also provide a helpful illustration of everything you shouldn’t do the next time you create a PP presentation.


1. Wait, What Was the End Game?

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No doubt this slide comes from one of the worst PowerPoints ever. Featuring a jumbled flow chart and more information than anyone can possibly read from one tiny slide, it’s a great example of how not to use charts in PP. On the left-hand side, we find an overly complicated chart that only an industry expert could tackle.

On the right-hand side, we find a smaller chart that’s just as confusing paired with bullet points that may or may not make sense. As if that all wasn’t enough, the presentation designer has also included a decorative graphic on the far left border of the slide. It’s just too much for the human eye to sort out and likely managed to confuse and bore viewers at the same time.


2. Just a Little Update

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PowerPoint presentations are often used to provide updates about market conditions, but this slide takes the cake when it comes to market presentation fails. It’s packed full of information, and that’s exactly where the problem lies. Instead of presenting information in easy-to-digest bullets, the presentation designer has crammed what looks like a short essay onto one slide.

There’s simply no way that presentation viewers were able to read all of this information on a big screen. Even if it was handed out in a print version, the cellphone graphic in the lower left corner makes it impossible to read all the text. This fail illustrates why using short bullet points and handing out supplemental materials is a better strategy than simply shoving all the information you want to share onto presentation slides.


3. A Map to Somewhere

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PowerPoint presentations are often used to map out business processes. This social business power map aims to illustrate something, but we’re just not sure what it is. There are just too many sections and colors to work out what’s going on.

In addition to being visually confusing, the map is just too voluminous for one PowerPoint slide. There seems to be a lot of information happening here, and likely the audience could have gotten more out of the presentation if it had been broken into separate slides. The lesson? Don’t be afraid to break complex information into several different slides. It will be much easier for your audience to follow.





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When it comes to cars, this presentation has a lot to say. It’s packed with useful information, but the presentation format makes it one of the worst PowerPoints we’ve ever seen. From the garish title slide decked out with word art to the poorly conceived background and text combinations, this presentation is not only ugly but incredibly difficult to read too.

The presentation designer has made the big mistake of applying plain text directly over a slightly faded background image, which results in poor readability. Aesthetically speaking, the slides look rather amateur too. Background images are blended with patterns and dull grays. There’s no doubt that this is one presentation that just might have bored viewers to death despite having useful content.


5. Afghanistan: A Confusing Situation

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Government PowerPoint fails are a dime a dozen, but some are just more amusing than others. U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal was faced with many confounding situations when he led that country’s Joint Special Operations Command during the early phases of the war in Afghanistan. This PowerPoint presentation prepared for McChrystal drew attention to the confusing nature of the situation in its own unique way.

Chock full of busy flow charts and an excess of information, it’s one of the worst PP fails the U.S. government has ever committed. One has to wonder what McChrystal thought as he sat through the presentation. Surely he couldn’t make sense of the overwhelming text or the jumble of information before him. The boring white slide backgrounds didn’t do much to increase the aesthetic appeal of the presentation either.


Of course, these PowerPoint fails can do more than just amuse and entertain. They also provide useful illustrations of the biggest presentation fails you can commit. When designing a PP presentation, remember that sleek and simple are always better than busy and complex. If you want to share more information than you can fit on your slides, create supplementary materials that viewers can refer to throughout your presentation. Handouts offer a great way to extend the value of your presentation and provide your audience with in-depth information without overwhelming them.

Working with a professional designer is also a great way to ensure that your PowerPoint presentation doesn’t fail. At Synapsis Creative, we’re design and PowerPoint professionals who know how to make presentations that succeed every time. Whether you need assistance with a one-time project or want to create a series of stunning presentations, we can help you design striking PowerPoints that audiences will love.



Tom Howell

About Tom Howell