Worst PowerPoint Slide Contest Winners.

PowerPoint presentations have become ubiquitous in business, education, and many other settings for communicating ideas and information. However, creating an effective PowerPoint presentation takes thought and effort. There have been many examples over the years of poorly designed PowerPoint slides that fail to effectively convey the intended message. Some companies and organizations have even held contests to showcase the “worst” PowerPoint slides as both entertainment and education.

InFocus’s “Worst PowerPoint Slides” Contest

In 2011, the digital projector company InFocus held a contest called “What Not to Present” to find the worst PowerPoint slides. The goal was to highlight common mistakes in presentation design and encourage better practices.

The winner of the contest was a slide titled “Joint Battlespace Infosphere Assessment Process” that depicted the complex military strategy in Afghanistan. The slide was extremely dense with a dizzying array of boxes, arrows, and abbreviations. General Stanley McChrystal was shown the slide and quipped, “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war.”

Key mistakes:

  • Overly complex visuals
  • Tiny, hard-to-read text
  • Jargon and abbreviations unclear to the audience

Other notable entries included slides with:

  • Distracting backgrounds
  • Too much text
  • Unreadable color schemes


  • Simplify visuals for clarity
  • Use concise text and bullets
  • Ensure sufficient contrast between text and background

Common PowerPoint Pitfalls

The InFocus contest and other collections of “bad” PowerPoint slides showcase some common design mistakes. These include:

1. Too Much Text

Slides filled from top to bottom with paragraphs of text guarantee your audience will tune out. Use concise bullets instead.

2. Complex Visuals

Charts, graphs, and process flows should clarify information, not confuse. Simplify complex concepts into clean visuals.

3. Boring Templates

Default PowerPoint themes with dated clipart look unprofessional. Use simple, elegant designs instead.

4. Distracting Effects

Fancy transitions and animations draw attention away from content. Use them sparingly, if at all.

5. Poor Flow

Ensure your presentation has a logical progression. Don’t jump randomly between topics.

6. Inconsistent Formatting

Use consistent text sizes, color schemes, and layouts across slides to look polished.

Best Practices for Better Slides

Creating great PowerPoint presentations takes work but leads to better audience engagement and recall. Follow these best practices:

  • Simplify text and visuals for clarity and impact
  • Use consistent, clean design elements like fonts, colors, and slide layout
  • Carefully organize slides to have a logical flow and narrative
  • Limit effects and animations to enhance, not distract from content
  • Use slide masters to efficiently ensure branding and consistency
  • Focus on your audience’s needs when developing your presentation

Turning Bad Slides Around

While the “worst” PowerPoint slide examples can be amusing, they also serve as cautionary tales. However, even bad slides can be turned around with some fundamental redesigns:

  • Replace walls of text with concise bullet points
  • Simplify complex visuals to focus on key data
  • Improve readability with higher contrast colors and text sizes
  • Establish hierarchy through headings and text formatting
  • Add explanatory notes or captions as needed for clarity
  • Remove unnecessary multimedia or effects

The key is to focus on clarifying your core message, not allowing slide design choices to overpower or distract from the information you want to convey.


A PowerPoint presentation can be a highly effective visual aid or a total disaster, depending on the quality of the design. While there will likely always be examples of design gone wrong, understanding core best practices can help every presenter create professional, polished slides. The “world’s worst” PowerPoint slides provide an often-amusing reminder of common pitfalls to avoid as well as inspiration for improving your own presentation designs.