We’ve all been there. Sitting in a classroom, listening to presentation after presentation. Most are mind-numbingly boring, until that one person puts on a show so bad that we squirm in our seats. From technical difficulties and clueless content to the horror of PowerPoint and even freaking blood being drawn, these cringing Redditors recount the worst presentations they’ve ever seen.
1. Use Only as Directed
When I was in primary school, we were all called into the gym for an assembly about some kind of important matter. We all filed in and sat on the floor and listened for thirty minutes…about why we should not lick the urinals. That’s right. The kids in my school needed explicit instruction about abstaining from licking urinals. The head teacher called us morons because apparently two had boys decided it was a good idea to lick said urinals and had unsurprisingly become violently ill.
2. Lost in Translation
My wife is a middle school math teacher. The year when the #MeToo movement was all over the news, the principal decided to do a presentation at a staff meeting about how the students and staff might be impacted. The unfortunate thing is, this principal was technologically illiterate. He had evidently never heard the word hashtag. He seemed to think it was still called a pound sign. Consequently, during the entire presentation, he talked about the "Pound Me Too Movement."
3. History Lesson
A couple of years ago in my English class, a group of kids were giving a bad presentation to begin with, but instead, they proceeded to make it infinitely worse by confidently saying that some guy’s dad had been in World War III. Not I or II, but III. And they said it multiple times. My English teacher kept glaring at our table and motioning for us to not laugh because we were losing it.
4. Love Song
For the eighth-grade talent show, two girls wrote and performed an original song. It was called "The Mr. Bledel Song.” Mr. Bledel was a good-looking, young, fairly new teacher, and the entire song was about how cute and amazing they thought he was. It was incredibly uncomfortable and I remember looking at the teacher’s face; he was so red that you could have fried an egg on his forehead.
5. Tone Deaf
A few months ago, we had an opioid awareness presentation at my high school. Those are always difficult to sit through, but this one was particularly bad. It started with them blasting the entirety of the Disturbed cover of “The Sound of Silence,” while showing a slideshow of images containing sad stock photos with the watermark covering half of them.
After the slideshow finally ended, two women told us the harrowing stories of how their sons had passed away due to opioid overdoses. It was incredibly emotional, and several people cried. Then, everything changed: a DEA agent gave us an angry speech and called us, an assembly of high school students, “f-ing morons.” Then, just to cover all the bases, a nurse who was there to tell us about the physical effects of opioid addiction and withdrawal took the stage.
I don’t remember any of the facts that she presented because the whole time she spoke, she was running around and practically screaming jokes and doing over-the-top gags, clearly trying to be the comic relief. In an opioid awareness assembly. Where two women had shared the stories of how their children had passed away. I never want to sit through an assembly like that again.
6. Wrong Decade
When I was in 4th grade, a girl in my class did an oral report on Martin Luther King. The only problem was, she clearly had not done any research, because the entire presentation was about how Dr. King was a hero...for freeing the slaves. Nobody stopped her either. I was squirming in my seat.
7. Tasteless Transition
We had to do a presentation on WWII in high school. One student had just discovered all the neat transitions you can use between slides in PowerPoint, and decided to use a different transition between each slide. There was just one problem: they used the flashing heart transition between a photo of a mass grave and a photo of Hitler.
8. Body Language
In my Spanish class in college, our desks were in a “U” shape, and I was on the very end of the “U.” One day, a male classmate was giving a presentation. He was standing behind a podium, but because of my vantage point, I could see his entire body. Apparently, he got a little, shall we say, “excited.” I tried to control my laughter, but he just kept going on and on and on, I think he was trying to outlast his obvious excitement. It ended up being a ten-minute presentation, in broken Spanish, that only needed to be like three minutes long. Super awkward.
9. Court Jester
We had an assembly where the students that helped planned Homecoming were supposed to announce the nominations for Homecoming King and Queen. It had a theme and a short skit. Well, at one point, the audio they were using as the cue for the skit failed. They all just kind of paused for technical difficulties–but then this one girl from the planning committee started singing a random Disney song a cappella while improvising a dance to go along with it.
I guess she thought it would be a good distraction from them trying to fix the audio or something. She kept trying to get people to join in with her, but nobody did, and she eventually just kind of trailed off mid-song and started pouting because nobody would sing with her. Then, once they got the audio fixed for the skit, she pouted and snapped all the way through the rest of her lines, which made everything even more uncomfortable. I just wanted to get out of there.
10. A Long, Long Presentation Ago…
For a film class, we had to choose a movie and present about it for our final project. One, um, enthusiastic student decided to do his PowerPoint on Star Wars. It was supposed to be 5 to 10 minutes long. Apparently this guy didn’t get the memo. After 30 minutes, he was only 102 slides into his presentation—which had nearly 1,000 slides.
11. Pretentious Pair
One year, my school had two co-valedictorians and they decided to give their speech together. At the same time. They switched off every couple sentences, for the entire speech. And instead of doing the typical valedictorian thing of being fake-humble and talking about the Future and Growth and Learning etc, they basically just congratulated themselves and each other the whole time for being so awesome. At one point they even high-fived each other for being top of the class. It was painful.
12. Check Your Sources
In college during an Abnormal Psychology class, we had to do a presentation on a disorder. One student decided to do a presentation on bipolar disorder. The only problem was, she was using Barack Obama as an example of someone suffering from the disorder. Her confusion and ours became clear when she cited her sources: she had used an article from The Onion, and nothing else.
13. Simple Plan Gone Awry
In my senior year, the teachers gathered us all for a presentation about the dangers of drunk driving that showed graphic, gory videos of car crashes. The only problem was that they made the choice to pair the video with Simple Plan’s whiny song, "How Could This Happen To Me?" The teachers were all staring daggers at us because we were all barely containing our laughter, and I think it’s safe to say that the gravitas of the presentation was lost on us.
14. Not to Be
We were supposed to make a film retelling the story of Hamlet. It was supposed to be five minutes long. Being the creative nutcases we were, my group made a 22-minute film, complete with a commercial break that made fun of prior books we had to read. Ophelia was a Jersey Shore teen that refused to take her medication, Polonius was a perverted Greek philosopher, and Hamlet was a depressed "emo" teenager. Sword fights were video game based, with Mortal Kombat themes. We presented it to the class—and were cut off after five minutes. We received an A-.
15. Don’t Judge a Book by its Title
In my grade 12 advanced placement English class, we were assigned books and then had to do a presentation on a topic related to it. One girl was assigned Animal Farm. She started up the PowerPoint projector and began her presentation with...kinds of tractors used in farming. She very clearly hadn’t read the book and assumed that it was about actual animal husbandry and farming. It was a very long presentation. The teacher had to actually hide her face.
16. Homophones Can Be Tricky
When I was about 12 or 13 years old, some guy in my class confused the words "heroic" and "erotic" during his novel presentation. The teacher asked if he had really read an "erotic" book and he said yes, completely oblivious to his mistake. The other students watched in disbelief. It took the teacher at least 30 seconds to catch up with the misunderstanding after recovering from her shock.
17. Color Blind
In 1984, when I was in sixth grade, each class had to perform a song in the winter concert. The eighth-grade football team had the grand finale. They made the extremely misguided decision to perform the song "I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas" in blackface. None of them were black. It was a different time, but still struck a wrong chord with me.
18. Know Your Audience
Our valedictorian started her speech off with "Well guys, in the words of Elle Woods..." and then paused to wait for the audience to say the line "We did it!"—but that didn't happen. What actually happened was excruciating. There was dead silence for a few seconds, which felt like an eternity. Then, in a really ditzy voice, she did the line herself, paused for laughter—and another awkward silence ensued. It did not get better from there.
19. Not Hypothetical
I went to school for Computer Security. In an introduction course, we had to do a project on Social Engineering. A student decided that for his project, he was going to find a way to gain illicit access to a chosen website. Turns out he’d been successful at it. He took us through every step, even admitting to faking his identity to gain passwords. As he presented all of this, we kept expecting him to say "but that would be against the law, so I didn't do it"—but he went all the way.
The professor finally stopped him after he said he’d successfully logged into the domain registrar. He told him to destroy everything and never speak of it again. He got a great grade, though.
20. The Reveal
During my high school French class, in sophomore year, we had to do show and tell to practice our French. One girl brought in her ultrasound photos and told us all about her “bébé.” She wasn’t showing yet, so it was quite the surprise to us all, seeing as we were in 10th grade. Our adorably sheltered teacher was too shocked to figure out how to stop the presentation, so she let it finish and then gave an awkward congratulations.
21. Mortifying Motions
For some reason, whenever we did book reports in fifth grade, our teacher required us to have a minimum number of "gestures." I was absent the day she explained that, so I got a C on my first book report because all I did was point to parts of a poster I made. Pointing counted as one gesture apparently, even if you did it 500 times.
So, in order to get a good mark, kids would be weirdly pantomiming as they gave their reports. One kid did a presentation on "The Bad Beginning," the first Series of Unfortunate Events book. Every time he said "Violet" he would pretend to tie a hair ribbon, since the character frequently performed this action in the book. Every time he said "Klaus," he held up his fingers to his face like glasses. Every time he said "Sunny," he would do a chomping motion and growl. This is exactly what the teacher was looking for.
Literally every report any kid did would be incredibly cringey because of all these gestures, unless they just pointed and took the bad grade. It was so stupid. My mom used to laugh when I practiced my presentations for her because of how dumb the gesture rule was.
22. The Show Must Go on
During a high school talent show, one guy had planned to perform “Back in Black” by AC/DC. Unfortunately, the day of the show, he forgot both his guitar and his microphone. Instead of backing out, trooper that he is, he decides to perform it a cappella. It ended up being a “Back in Black” spoken word performance…and it's a song that...isn't really conducive to that. The audience didn’t know how to respond. It was super awkward.
In a grade 10 history class, we had to do presentations on current events, and one kid did his on tension between Canada (I'm Canadian) and China. It was fine for the most part…until he put up a map of the world, and started talking about how if Canada went to battle with China, it would be difficult, because they'd have to go all the way across the Atlantic, Europe, and Asia to reach China.
A few people pointed out that the world is, in fact, round, but he just ignored them and kept going. I don’t know if he was too embarrassed to admit his mistake or just genuinely thought that we could only travel in one direction across the world.
24. Malignant Metaphor
When I was a ninth-grade student, we had to present the poems we made in English class. Most people wrote about embracing their culture, loving their friends, normal things ninth-graders think about. And then there was one kid who recited a “lifestyle poem” which compared people who are overweight to beached whales and implied that people who don’t work out will die before they’re 20.
25. A Depth of Cringe
One year in middle school, we all had to do a final research project and present it to the class. One kid decided to do his final talk on Minecraft. It would have been fine, except it was painfully obvious that he hadn’t planned it out at all. His presentation literally just had a single slide of the title screen, followed by one slide with a poor explanation of how to play the game.
He then just went off on tangents about specific things he’d done in the game. This was back when Minecraft was not overly popular, so most of us had no idea what he was talking about. But that's not even the worst part. On top of that, he had asked to present it live. Everyone was given the option of just recording their talk and sending it to the teacher but no, not him! He was the only one to present live to the class, so we were left stewing in an uncomfortable depth of cringe and second hand embarrassment.
26. Missing Trigger Warning
A guy in my English class gave a presentation on the history of the N-word and when reading his slides, he kept accidentally actually saying the N-word! Instead of announcing at the beginning that he was going to be saying the word as part of the presentation, he somehow tried to get through the presentation without saying it, and every time he failed to avoid it, he would apologize to the class. It was so hard not to laugh at how stressed he was getting over accidentally saying it, when it seemed like it would have been so preventable.
27. Don’t Trust Spellcheck
I had to do a presentation for a class I took in college. The class was reviewing the historical life of Jesus so we could work to separate fact from belief. I did not thoroughly read through my PowerPoint slides when I finished them; I simply hit spellcheck and trusted that it would catch any mistakes. It was supposed to be a book review for "An Experiment in Christology." Instead, I misspelled "Experiment" and PowerPoint autocorrected it to "Excrement."
My presentation, whose title appeared in the header of EVERY SLIDE, was called "An Excrement in Christology." I had over 30 slides and I cringed each time a new one popped up.
28. Everybody Makes a Wrong Turn Once in Awhile
In middle school, I did a presentation with a friend about Pokemon. I was fairly obsessed at the time. We made a slide for every generation, including the 4th which was new at the time, another slide for every Pokeball, every type, a few selected individual Pokemon, and other stuff that is important in the Pokemon games. It was VERY detailed.
All of a sudden, in the middle of the presentation, my friend took over and started to rush through. He told me afterwards that he realized that nobody, including the teacher, wanted to listen to that many details about Pokemon. My teacher was happy that he finished fast and that we didn't use up the entire class with our presentation. Now, looking back, I cringe thinking about me being so oblivious.
A girl in our class running for student government was giving a campaign speech to the whole school. She was excited to announce a hashtag that she was trying to make popular during her campaign. The hashtag was something catchy—about her having a big butt. Ya. There was a collective "yikes" from the crowd when she said it. I don't think she got elected.
30. Questionable Choices
In 2003 in New Zealand, one of the teachers at my high school started up a Polynesian dance group. It was just called the 'Nesian group, as it was meant to be inclusive of whoever wanted to join, given that the vast majority of the kids at this school were white. Now, the teacher herself was from Nuie, a tiny Polynesian island, and something possessed her to make all the white kids paint their faces brown when they performed in front of the school. I don't know what she was thinking. I cringe to think about whether any pictures of this survive.
31. Dancing A Cappella
One year, the guy from the “Evolution of Dance” viral memes came to speak at my high school. He does motivational speaking now, and his talk went over fairly well, although it was nothing memorable. Things started to go downhill after his talk, when he went to do his dance routine. A little less than a minute into the song, the music cut out.
Instead of stopping to fix the problem, this man performed the ENTIRE remaining three quarters of his routine without music in front of 900 silent 9th-12th graders. I’m still haunted by the sound of his shoes squeaking on the gym floor accompanied by his occasional grunts of effort. Nobody knew how to respond.
32. Words of Wikipedia
During my college level speech class, we were working in groups of four for our final presentation. The typical dynamic emerged: one guy and I did the bulk of the work, one guy apparently couldn’t wait around on campus to work on the project during the two weeks we had to prepare, but insisted he had his part “handled;” the fourth guy just kind of stopped coming to class.
On the day of the presentation, the fourth guy didn’t show up, and the third guy reassured us that he was ready, despite never meeting with us to work on the project. Our presentation went surprisingly well…until the guy who “had it handled” literally read straight from a page he had printed from Wikipedia. Word for word. I could see the Wikipedia logo over his shoulder during the excruciating amount of time it took for him to complete narrating the entire Wikipedia page. Somehow we all got A’s.
33. Geography Lesson
An insanely smart foreign kid in our French class was doing a presentation on Christmas. He started out with the claim that Christmas originated when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem…USA. The teacher stopped him and informed him that Bethlehem wasn’t in the USA. The kid insisted that it was. A debate ensued.
The teacher and the kid started going back and forth—yes it is, no it’s not, yes it is, no it’s not—until finally, the kid pulled up a map on his phone and triumphantly yelled, “Yes it is, it’s in Pennsylvania!” As a bunch of 14 year olds from Canada who never even knew Bethlehem, Pennsylvania existed, we absolutely lost it at this epic win. The teacher was at a loss for words.
34. Getting Vengeance on V
I once went to a Halloween party at a bowling alley that had karaoke and a costume contest with a superhero theme. There was a guy dressed as V from V for Vendetta. His girlfriend was with him. I'm not sure what she was supposed to be, but when he got up for karaoke, he decided to cancel his song. Instead, he recited the entire "remember, remember the fifth of November" speech. It was weird, but then it got even cringier.
Meanwhile, his girlfriend was on the ground, hugging his leg the entire time, while he struck an action pose. The entire audience was very, very confused. A few hours in, the organizers decided to have everyone go up on stage to explain their costumes. Once again, instead of explaining, he started to recite the speech again! He got to the word "November," before I said, apparently a lot louder than I thought, "Not this again!" He dropped his head and walked off the stage. I felt a little bad, but mostly relieved that we wouldn't have to sit through it again.
35. Battle Wounds
We were doing presentations on Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. One guy brought in a food processor and a plastic toy rat to talk about how rats got into our food supply in processing plants. I guess it was a good idea, but unfortunately, the execution was a disaster. The rat made the food processor get stuck! He poked at the plastic rat with his finger – and the food processor started to run as his finger was at blade level. Yelling ensued. We had to tell him to stop, wrap up his finger and go to the nurse.
36. The Dangers of Words Within Words
I was in my English class when my teacher was writing the word “title” on the board. However, the phone from the office rang in the middle of class. She got up to answer it, leaving the unfinished word on the board. The “le” in “title” was missing. Everyone fell over with laughter, and the teacher's face was as red as a tomato when she returned to the board and realized what we were all laughing at. Her entire lesson after that was just uncomfortable.
37. It Didn’t Get Better
During a talent show and concert my choir put on, some freshman decided to sing, "If More People Join In, The Song Will Get Better" from Family Guy. The idea of the song is exactly what it says in the song title. The song is legitimately terrible unless other people join in. He tried to get the people in the audience to join him, but unfortunately, no one joined him except me, out of pity. I regret it.
38. At a Loss for Words
In ninth grade, we all had to give a speech to the class. One girl got up there and started the speech, but about halfway through, she forgot what she was going to say. Instead of trying to continue, or checking her notes or something, she just stood there, for a full minute, staring over our heads and saying nothing, looking like she was about to cry. Eventually, she just walked off, embarrassed. It was super-awkward to watch.
39. Listen to The Voice in Your Head
When I was in seventh grade, we had to do a presentation introducing ourselves to the class. Public speaking made me really nervous, so I immediately forgot what I had planned to say when I started my presentation. I started rambling on for no reason about places I wanted to go that I was never realistically going to be able to visit.
I remember I started going on and on about how cool some Warner Brothers theme park in Spain looked, despite neither myself or anybody in my family even being remotely interested in visiting Spain. In my head, I was thinking 'Please stop' but I just couldn't stop myself talking. Finally, the teacher took pity on me and started clapping, giving me permission to sit down.
40. Unwise Wisdom
I went to an all-girls Catholic High School. We once had a school-wide assembly that I think was supposed to be about purity and knowing your worth etc. It was kind of condescending, a little old-fashioned, but par for the course for a Catholic school. Or so we thought. The speaker ended up going on an hour-long rant.
She said that since she used birth control when she was young, she was now looking forward to meeting her babies prevented by birth control when she got to heaven, and that birth control was turning the frogs transgender. We were all shocked and horrified afterward. There were many more things said, but these were the most memorable. We all got sent an apology email a day later.
41. Dodged a Bullet
I was part of a group project on WWII, and we needed to do a PowerPoint presentation. One guy was in charge of the presentation formatting and visuals. About two days before the presentation, he came to us, giddy and excited, and showed us the presentation, which he was very proud of. He'd put animated flaming skulls everywhere.
On top of WWII photos, on top of photos of mass graves, everywhere. He’d also used the wackiest transitions available on the program. We could barely sit through it, and when it was over, I think we all just stared at him. We did not let him present it to the rest of the class.
42. Wrong Place, Wrong Time
We were told to do a presentation on Auschwitz, but from the POV of a prisoner, so we had to write a letter, pretending we were stuck there. We were asked to detail the hardships, the uncertainty, people going missing, the fear etc. Well, one guy didn't take it very seriously, and he planned to pull the usual class clown stuff.
Presentation day arrived, they asked for volunteers to present first, and the class clown stuck his hand up. The teacher looked a little shocked by his enthusiasm, but said he could go first. Then she added, "but before we start, we have a special guest." Into our classroom walked a legitimate Auschwitz survivor. The rest of the class was utterly horrendous.
The idea was for us to read our stories to him to get a discussion going. The class clown was forced to read his horrendously tone-deaf letter to someone to whom it was real. At least he had the good grace to be bashful and apologetic while he read. It was one of the most painful situations I’ve ever witnessed.
I took Portuguese in high school, and we had to do several presentations to practice our speaking. A guy from my class apparently left it to the last minute and just downloaded some random thing off of the Internet to read. The problem became very evident as soon as he started reading the paper: it was in Spanish instead of Portuguese! He had apparently just copy-pasted quickly and didn't realize what language it was until he started reading it. It was hilarious.
44. The Scream
We had to do a presentation on a novel in grade 7. The rubric said that our presentations had to have a hook that “grabbed the audience’s attention.” One kid got very literal about it. When it was his turn to present, he stood up and screamed at the top of his lungs for maybe 15 seconds, and then gave his presentation. No one could pay attention because we were all so confused about the scream.
When it was over, our teacher asked him why he had screamed in the beginning. He said, “Well, you told us to get everyone’s attention. Didn’t I do that?” The entire class was totally silent. The teacher just put his face in his hands and the kid awkwardly shuffled back to his seat. He actually passed the project with a C+, since the actual presentation wasn’t bad.
45. It Reminds Me That it’s Not so Bad…
My English teacher all through high school was super cool, and actively encouraged creative presentations. This one guy in our class, who was pretty shy and was known to be kind of a weirdo, decided to relate the book he read to the song “Stan” by Eminem. The kid went up in front of the class and proceeded to rap/sing “Stan.”
The entire class went silent; we knew it was this kid’s time to shine, but good lord was it second-hand embarrassing. After he got through the first verse, the teacher either noticed how awkward it was or noticed the amount of swearing, and he suggested that we had heard enough of the song.
The kid did not stop, but we could see that was getting nervous, so a few of us started to rap along with him, and he seemed to have this burst of confidence. He rapped the entire song, profanity and all, even though my teacher asked him many times to stop. It was awkward, but at the end he was beaming, he had had the best time. I'm just glad no one was making fun of him while he was up there, because the kid seemed like he really needed the boost of confidence.
46. Just Eat Some Watermelon
There was an assembly at my school for the entire school when I was in 5th grade about healthy eating. Now, most assemblies were interesting; they would talk about nature and bring in animals, or talk about science and do experiments. I usually enjoyed them quite a bit. Unfortunately, this wasn’t like that at all. This guy came in dressed up in a strawberry costume and did a whole 45-minute presentation talking about how good fruits and veggies are for you.
He did all this while dancing and playing royalty-free music for pretty much the entire presentation. I remember him saying “watermelon, makes you happy! So when you’re feeling down and sad, just eat some watermelon!” And I thought to myself ‘I love watermelon, I’ll remember that.’ But when I researched it years later, and learned that there’s nothing special about watermelon that can make you happy, I wondered how much of what that guy was saying was also wholly unsupported.
47. Teachable Moment
A good friend of mine was teaching a class where she had students doing research presentations on countries. One student had Mongolia and thought people from Mongolia were called “mongoloids.” Apparently he had done all the research accordingly. He started this presentation with how people from Mongolia may have lower than average intelligence, larger than average heads, etc. My friend realized what had happened and put a quick stop to it.
48. Hot Diggety Dog!
In 7th grade, this kid was running for class president and for some reason, he did his entire campaign speech in a Mickey Mouse voice. I would be willing to bet that his parents had probably told him to use the funny voice gimmick. Unfortunately, no one actually thought it was funny, so he was just stuck at the podium talking in this cartoon voice, openly dying of embarrassment inside, for like 5 minutes. I just felt bad for him honestly.
49. Accidental Exposure
When I was in tenth grade, the English teacher made us present all of our projects in front of all of her classes. There were like 100 of us gathered in the auditorium to watch these. One of the popular people connected her USB drive to the laptop, which was connected to a projector, presumably to show us her presentation. Nope, we were SO wrong.
Instead, what we saw on the big screen were a bunch of photos of her…without any clothes! It took them almost a full minutes to realize this had happened, and one of her friends had to jump in front of the projector to save her dignity.
50. Unintended Consequences
My class in 8th grade held an entire presentation on all the possible dangerous viral Internet challenges teenagers could do, and how they could lead to serious harm. We were a group of 15 kids, and each was going to present a challenge with detailed instructions on how to do it, but also including information about why you shouldn’t.
As we presented, we realized that instead of avoiding Internet challenges, we were basically tempting more kids to do them, since we were giving explicit steps and information. Needless to say, the teachers thought we would be sending off the wrong message as well and stopped us 5 minutes in. It’s too bad, because we put a lot of work into it.