blinking text and maybe some horrid clip art, too
September 29, 2011 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Help me make the most visually unfortunate, ugly, cliche-ridden, god-awful Powerpoint presentation ever.

This afternoon, a colleague and I will have to make a one-slide powerpoint covering about 6 bullet points. The meeting this is for is one that does humor really well, so I want to make the mother of all bad powerpoint presentations.

I want bad animation and ugly color schemes and weird fly-outs and every powerpoint cliche you can think of. The trouble is, I'm not really familiar with powerpoint and don't know where to start. Is there a gold standard for ugly presentations that we could use as a starting point?
posted by jbickers to Computers & Internet (53 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Do the opposite of this:
Here are the five rules you need to remember to create amazing Powerpoint presentations:

No more than six words on a slide. EVER. There is no presentation so complex that this rule needs to be broken.
No cheesy images. Use professional stock photo images.
No dissolves, spins or other transitions.
Sound effects can be used a few times per presentation, but never use the sound effects that are built in to the program. Instead, rip sounds and music from CDs and leverage the Proustian effect this can have. If people start bouncing up and down to the Grateful Dead, you’ve kept them from falling asleep, and you’ve reminded them that this isn’t a typical meeting you’re running.
Don’t hand out print-outs of your slides. They don’t work without you there.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:53 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Clip art, I mean the really classic old style from 1995 is always good. Try to make it as irrelevant as possible. Also the transition where the pixels dissolve is particularly horrid. Maybe on some slides put a bunch of totally irrelevant information in really tiny text. Good luck, sounds awesome!
posted by boobjob at 10:53 AM on September 29, 2011

Be sure to do your titles with some sort of 3D extrusion effect.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:54 AM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

You can't go wrong with animated flames.
posted by zem at 10:55 AM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

If it can be bevelled, it should be bevelled.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:56 AM on September 29, 2011 [7 favorites]

Updated version of Don McMillan's classic presentation.
posted by cgk at 10:57 AM on September 29, 2011

- Use a terrible font like comic sans
- Black background with bright red typing
- Clip art should be totally cartoon like
- Have each bulleted line have a different fly out (spiral is pretty bad)
- Add awful sound effects from the PP menu
- Blinking text
- Completely too much text on the slides
- Use a lazer pointer when presenting AND give them all this lovely presentation as handouts as well!
posted by floweredfish at 10:57 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Not only clip art, but those really horrible animated dancing stick figure things. And horizontal slide shifts. And tiny tiny >10pt type.

Drop shadows everywhere. 3D headers.

Spend only 2 min on the slide with tons of text, and then spend an hour on a slide that just says "Cont'd"
posted by rmless at 10:57 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Believe it or not, previously! (sorta)
posted by utsutsu at 10:58 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

One of the best ways is to have random old clip art flying in with the most elaborate animation possible. Make the clip art is big enough to take up the whole screen, then immediately leave. Then add in random sound effects. Make sure you use clapping sound effects for whenever you introduce your topic.
posted by Deflagro at 10:58 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Randomly placed, different sized clip-art of dubious relevance. Different fonts for everything, in various colours. Different background and layout on every slide, with one being plain white, one with gradients, and one with a "faded" picture that makes the text hard to read. Animate everything - different slide transitions for every slide, a different text animation entrance for every bullet-point,.
posted by stillnocturnal at 11:00 AM on September 29, 2011

I guess I should have pointed out that the information to be conveyed in the presentation will be good info and of use to the audience - so massively padding the text is out. Can only really do visual cliches, the text has to survive. (Although it will almost certainly be in 24-point comic sans.)
posted by jbickers at 11:00 AM on September 29, 2011

Believe it or not, previously!

And definitely check out the final result.
posted by cashman at 11:01 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sound effects suckify everything, particularly animations. For some interesting inspiration on how PPT suckifies everything, take a look at the Gettysburg Address.
posted by jquinby at 11:01 AM on September 29, 2011

Cashman, those links have expired - I don't suppose there's anyway somebody has that pptx file?
posted by jbickers at 11:02 AM on September 29, 2011

To the "Use professional stock photo images.", I've gotta say that a Google search for "people looking at a computer stock photo" brings up all sorts of cheesey badness that must be incorporated into any PowerPoint presentation that aspires to "cliche-ridden" and "god-awful".
posted by straw at 11:02 AM on September 29, 2011

Spelling misteakkes.
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:03 AM on September 29, 2011

And definitely check out the final result.
Quoth the server: 404
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:06 AM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Screen beans! And word art.
posted by MadamM at 11:06 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, bonus points if you can have that stupid Microsoft Paper Clip guy appear during the presentation somewhere - I'd suggest the final slide with "Any Questions".
posted by floweredfish at 11:08 AM on September 29, 2011

Star wipe! Star wipe! Star wipe!
posted by Rhaomi at 11:11 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Be sure to upscale any images so they are horribly pixelated. A large watermark on them won't hurt, either.
posted by Quonab at 11:19 AM on September 29, 2011

Be sure to read the images to the audience. Slowly.
posted by effluvia at 11:26 AM on September 29, 2011

Seriously, read the previously that is referenced above not only for ideas, but because the thread is fucking hysterical. The ideas in there - especially the completely out of the blue ones like having your computer kick off an active, on screen virus scan in the middle of the presentation - are comedy gold.
posted by 8dot3 at 11:29 AM on September 29, 2011

Please ensure that every slide has a different transition, and that on at least one slide the text appears word by word. Oh! And set the transition and/or word appear by timer to something inappropriately fast or inappropriately slow.

Seek out the animated clip art. And yes, sound effects are a must.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:31 AM on September 29, 2011

Here you go.
posted by empath at 11:33 AM on September 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

Others have recommended sound effects. I specifically recommend the HARP sound, and LOUD.
posted by peep at 11:35 AM on September 29, 2011

Here's my favorite from the all hands meeting after my company got bought out:

A long intro showing people doing office-y stuff (pointing at screens and smiling, etc) with a backing track of Starship -- "We Built This City".

Which was of course, prefaced by 10 minutes of the video not working, and having to call tech support to help.
posted by empath at 11:35 AM on September 29, 2011 [6 favorites]

Also, completely inappropriate graphs for data that should not be graphed, or should not be graphed in that way -- like a time series in piecharts.
posted by empath at 11:37 AM on September 29, 2011

There should definitely be unicorns.
posted by tully_monster at 11:38 AM on September 29, 2011

In fact, if you accompany "We Built This City" with a far too cheerful presenter exorting everybody to get up and dance, that would be ideal.
posted by empath at 11:38 AM on September 29, 2011

In my last wretched job, we had monthly All!Team!Meetings with slides that featured tables with way too many cells and graphs with teeny tiny text, accompanied by droning narration. Completely. Useless. as a visual presentation.

Had I been there for one more meeting, I would've brought binoculars. Really, I would have, since I kept some in my cube.
posted by jgirl at 11:40 AM on September 29, 2011

Here you go.
posted by empath at 2:33 PM on September 29 [+] [!]

You've been spying on our HR department?
posted by aught at 11:51 AM on September 29, 2011

I had to do this for a Powerpoint party I went to, where everyone who came got to give a powerpoint presentation on the topic of their choice. It was really fun -- everything from modern dance to yerba matte to a new numerical system, and then mine, which was an overview of that day's episode of Coronation Street. these are the things I learned:

- slides should be as complex as possible. if there's bullets, stagger them. put photos in between lines of text. use lots of backgrounds and clipart! it's best if the backgrounds clash from slide to slide.
- make it take as long as possible. you can cram tons of lines of text on a slide, but back sure they all appear one at a time and scroll onto the slide separately. don't forget to use fun swipes and fades when changing slides.
- inconsistency is key! swipes and effects should never be repeated to make the slideshow as spastic and incoherent as possible. Never reuse and effect, and if you have to, make it's not on two slides side-by-side.
-that being said, if you're going to make a spastic presentation, why not stick a couple of identical slides in there just to confuse the watcher!
-two words: MIDI MUSIC. make it automatic and repeating.
posted by custard heart at 12:00 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

You've been spying on our HR department

That's a legit slide from a us federal government agency presentation.
posted by empath at 12:04 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

- Marble textures with beveled edges.
- Embedded video that doesn't play.
- Include a VERY LARGE corporate logo on the Master slide's background that renders a good third of the slide area useless.
- Use an image that has been radically over-scaled up so the resolution goes all to hell. (This is especially nice if it's tabular data, scraped out of a screengrab.)
- Use low contrast text (e.g., yellow words on a white background) with high-contrast decoraion (fire engine red, please) so that the eye is drawn to decoration but information is illegible.

I'll stop, but my middle school-age daughter turned in a project this week that was twenty pages of text on top of images. At least I taught her how to screen the images back to 40% so the words would be legible. Oh, Blessed Tufte, where art thou in our hour of need?!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:16 PM on September 29, 2011

I always look to Abraham Lincoln's "The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation" as my example of what not to do.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 12:21 PM on September 29, 2011

I highly recommend that effect where each goddamn letter of text slides in on its own accompanied by the sound of a bullet firing. It's so bad it's painful.
posted by Polyhymnia at 12:45 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Drop shadows go with everything - especially marble textures with bevelled edges
posted by missmagenta at 1:05 PM on September 29, 2011

Don't forget the bean people clip art! (I can't believe I'm still seeing those in presentations ...)
posted by research monkey at 1:11 PM on September 29, 2011

Can you do it as a MadLib™?
posted by nightwood at 1:20 PM on September 29, 2011

Assuming PPT 2007, Animations, Custom Animation, Add Effect, Entrance, More Effects is where they keep all the ridiculous ones. I recommend Swivel and Thread, since they're the ones that take the longest (although you can set the speed from the drop-down menu, after you've picked an animation).

I agree with Polyhymnia that you need to animate each letter of your bullets, and then use the bullet sound effect. This is in the drop-down under Effect Options, Effect, Animate Text, which is also where you add in your sounds. Note that you can give each line of text its own different animation, and you can apply multiple animations to the same line of text.

Powerpoint, bless it, has "Random" as an option for slide transitions, not that that helps you with your single slide. And they've preserved the 1995-vintage "texture" and preset gradient fills for charts. Did you know you can put bevels *and* drop shadows on data points in charts? Even if you don't have any numbers to chart, you should make some up just so you can use those.

(I think I have a copy of the Bad Bad Presentation somewhere; memail me and I'll look for it.)
posted by mgar at 1:40 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Include a comic, but make it unreadably small so you end up explaining it out loud.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:51 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, one more: embed some iconic troop-rousing clip from a movie. Pacino's speech from Any Given Sunday, the opening from Patton, something like that. Even if it has very little to do with the subject matter. As mentioned above, bonus if the sound cuts out completely, or is so low that no one can really hear it.
posted by jquinby at 2:29 PM on September 29, 2011

Clippy! Clippy that fucking annoying-ass paperclip from Word back in the day. Clippy animations would be GOLD.
posted by 8dot3 at 3:21 PM on September 29, 2011

More inspiration. Clippy's good, but you must also use Screen Beans, still available from Microsoft's clip art site. Also, glitter angels, and other myspace-worthy graphics. Every slide transition must be different, and use as much animation, and as many sound effects, preferably cheesy midi files, as possible. Truly bad jokes. I usually put bad jokes in powerpoints; people love to hate them. 2 words: Glitter Text.

MeFi favorite Treaty of Westphalia would be a worthy addition of too much boring text on a slide or 2. and lots of over-used mindless motivational phrases - tweak them a bit if you can, to make them more banal.

I've realized that I'm describing a cross between an early website, MySpace page, and motivational poster. Please post this when it's done; I'd really love to see it.
posted by theora55 at 4:40 PM on September 29, 2011

Include a hyperlink which, of course, won't work because you won't be connected to the net, and give you a 404 error instead.

(Make it obvious, with the full address, and for bonus points make the address sound like something fun that people will regret not seeing)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:53 PM on September 29, 2011

Black background with bright red typing

Are you kidding? I'm thinking blue-to-black horizontal gradient, yellow bold text with black drop shadow.
posted by scose at 5:25 PM on September 29, 2011

Forget comic sans - this calls for the big guns ... Word Art. Stretched out, gradient filled, arched, drop shadow ...
posted by clerestory at 6:51 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Photos like this from Awkward Stock Photos might be a welcome addition.
posted by pmugowsky at 7:14 PM on September 29, 2011

Cashman, those links have expired - I don't suppose there's anyway somebody has that pptx file?

Quoth the server: 404

Ah, sorry about that. I've got it. VeryBadPresentation.pptx (1.08 mb)

Sadly, since a lot of people make bad powerpoints for their presentations, it doesn't even look that bad.
posted by cashman at 6:39 AM on September 30, 2011

The worst presentation I ever saw had random sound effects and was timed. The presenter got out of sync with the slides so we had to endure typewriters and bells at random times.

And yes, Word Art was made for this.
posted by wallaby at 10:48 AM on September 30, 2011

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