A Humorous Look at When a Presentation Goes Horribly Wrong

This is the humorous, painful, and probably not very instructional story of a presentation gone horribly wrong.

I recently tweeted this and Erik Fisher gave me the idea to post about this:


Below is how things went down. What came from the debacle was a side chat with one colleague and a group chat with the rest. I have changed their names but the comments are copied and pasted from our Skype windows.

I hope that you laugh. I hope that you cringe (in a good way). And I hope that you learn something. I’ll settle for laughing and cringing though.

12oclockTime for the meeting to begin. I’ve cleared my schedule for an hour and I am ready for some learning. The topic is dealing with fraud in affiliate marketing and how this particular vendor can help.

We chat amongst ourselves for two minutes then settle down in expectation of the arrival of the presenter. No arrival.

Three minutes of listening to others type go by. I make a few jokes about Sesame Street. Still no presenter.


Greg: Greatest call ever
Me: Can I get the last 5 minutes of my life back?
Greg: I have learned a ton
Greg: I now have a masters in impatiently waiting
Me: I just cried in laughter at that.

Four more minutes go by and still no presenter. Until finally…


Here is what I hear next…

“Weak apology, excuse, awkward laughter, blame someone else, fumbling for starting point, deep breath, muffled, robotic voice.”

His internet connection was horrible, his presentation wasn’t ready, and…it goes on and on.

Me: I am going to stab my ears with a pencil. First I have to find a pencil. Do they even make pencils anymore? Do non-architect adults still use pencils?
Greg: All I hear is computer voice. bloop bloop bop bop.
Me: wow
Greg: I am a robot George
Me: wow epic fail
Greg: This has to be embarassing
Me: What wold be better is if you broke out into techno song
Greg: If we could auto tune everything he said up until now

I’m not kidding, suddenly we hear a loud “meow.”

12-14Me: What the heck? A cat. Wow. A cat.
Greg: This is incredible
Me: That just happened. I mean. A cat
Greg: His office is in an animal shelter

He makes it about two more minutes and finally gets his presentation online. Hooray, we can begin! We even get two slides in. He awkwardly laughs a few times when he realizes he has insulted us, but otherwise it is the smoothest three minutes yet. Brilliant! Until…


Greg: Ooh autotune voice. I am peeing.
Me: I am literally in tears. this is like Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
Jennifer (Meeting leader): Sorry about this. This is totally painful.
Me: I am literally crying
Greg: and the cat
Jennifer: fml
Marie: bahahaha!
Me: Tears streaming down my face
Greg: He needs to not work in an animal shelter
Me: A little pee just came out
Ashley: (tumbleweed)
Wendy: Roll On the Floor Laughing
Me: the cat
Me: Really the cat. I mean it was a cat
Greg: Meow

Then he loses connection. And when he comes back:
12-22Greg: Everyone stay silent just to mess with him.
Me: Someone meow
Greg: Dying
Me I will give you $5 for a meow
Me: Offer is on the table

Sadly no one “meowed.”

Mercifully at 12:24, we ended the meeting.

What lessons can you learn from this?

Probably none other than if you are going to deliver a virtual presentation:

  1. Show up on time.
  2. Test the audio beforehand.
  3. Test the visual beforehand.
  4. If something goes wrong, avoid awkward, nervous laughter and blaming others.
  5. If it’s ten minutes into the meeting and you haven’t started, resort to joking with the others. It makes for an enjoyable bonding experience.

Now it’s your turn. Share your hilarious presentation or work stories below.

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