Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

36 Obvious Signs That You Just Threw Your Presentation Together

person presenting
Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Ever pulled a presentation together for work at the last minute? Yeah, well it’s probably a lot more obvious than you think.

Here are the signs you’re not as prepared as you said you were:

  1. You start with a 15-minute meditation, then stop for a 10-minute stretch break, and end with 20 minutes of silent introspection.
  2. Your co-presenter’s name is “Lorem Ipsum.”
  3. There’s a typo on the first slide. And all the other slides.
  4. The handouts are still warm from the copy machine.
  5. You start by saying you want to keep this “very high level,” which means you didn’t actually prepare anything.
  6. You pass around your phone for people to look at screenshots you forgot to add to the presentation.
  7. Every slide is just one word in a giant font.
  8. Every other slide is 5,000 words in a tiny font.
  9. Every other, other slide is an animated gif that has nothing to do with the topic.
  10. You ask if anyone has any questions before you’ve even started presenting anything, then when someone asks a question, you ask if anyone else knows the answer.
  11. You’ve put random memes of kittens, puppies, or babies on your slides to distract your audience from the fact that none of this makes any sense.
  12. You forgot to delete the contact information or bio of the co-worker you “borrowed” the slides from.
  13. You are presenting your plan for Q3, but it says “Q3 2014.”
  14. None of your bullet styles match from one slide to the next.
  15. You have a bullet point list that includes: TBD, Ask Mark for the latest numbers, [Add goal].
  16. You tell everyone you prepared a lengthy PowerPoint, but instead of showing it, you’d rather “hash it out” in an interactive discussion.
  17. You present for five minutes, then turn it over to the group for “brainstorming.”
  18. You draw each slide in real time on the white board, spending lots of time picking the right color markers.
  19. You ask the audience what they think you should talk about.
  20. You accidentally project your desktop and it’s littered with screenshots you were taking up until right before you got up to present.
  21. You keep taking extended sips of water.
  22. You play a video that takes up 95% of your time.
  23. You stop presenting to re-arrange your slides mid-session.
  24. None of your graphs have an X or Y axis.
  25. The slide numbers are sometimes there, sometimes not, and definitely aren’t in order.
  26. Several slide layouts were obviously destroyed by the template when you pulled them in from another deck.
  27. You decide that, instead of what you were going to present, going around the room and sharing what everybody did over the weekend would be a better use of time.
  28. You keep asking the one person who knows anything to “back you up here” which amounts to doing your presentation for you.
  29. You tell a lengthy story about your childhood and, at the last minute, try to relate it back to what you were supposed to be talking about.
  30. You need to be frequently reminded about what you were supposed to be talking about.
  31. You brought a prop.
  32. Your presentation is a Google Doc of random ideas you wrote down in your previous meeting.
  33. You navigate to different social media sites for a “live demo” but end up just scrolling through posts.
  34. You say you really can’t start without a certain person who’s not there, then you decide to cancel altogether.
  35. You ask a co-worker to control the slides for you, and when they ask why your slides are blank, you say they must have “messed something up.”
  36. Right before you start, you say you have to run to the bathroom, and you never come back.

Never want to mess up a presentation again? Download our free template.

This article was originally published on The Cooper Review. It has been republished here with permission.