We have met the Enemy and he is Powerpoint

Discussion in 'Staff College and Staff Officers' started by Bad CO, Apr 27, 2010.

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  1. Bad CO

    Bad CO LE Admin Reviews Editor Gallery Guru

    I think we can all relate to this ... mind you, I suspect we've all been guilty of similar crimes!

  2. Haveing just spent 6 months have to brief the septics in Kabul I can only conclude that at times they are their own worst enemy!!
  3. mysteron

    mysteron LE Book Reviewer

    Oh yes, I remember on TELIC making a single .ppt slide to describe the entire incidents, events and planned activity for MND(SE) - about 87 000 sq km of battlespace - for the last 24 hours, the next 24 hours, with all of the stated mission critical updates (of which Corps had stated there were 10).

    I think the font size used was 2. (No, we were absolutely forbidden to go onto a second slide).


    The US love of .ppt as a means to communicate has actually lost its real purpose as a summary of what you want to say, not a litany with diagrams of everything that has to be said.
  4. Just a shot in the dark but, is everything linked to everthing else?

    Good grief - the only thing missing from that thing is a note saying 'Here be dragons'.

    No. Seriously. Have a look here http://herebedragonsmovie.com/ 'An Introduction To Critical Thinking'.
  5. I think the dragons are somewhere to the left of the Insurgents on the .ppt
  6. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    do they still teach visual aids on MOIT courses?

    PowerPoint is like any tool, you need an investment in time to become proficient and proficiency allows one to achieve a lot in not a lot of time.

    PowerPoint is one of those applications that you can bluff your way through but the end results will invariably be dire and counter productive to the task at hand, which at its most basic is communication.

    So rather than attacking PowerPoint we should attack the lac of instruction or the assumption that just because you can type or open a PPT you can be an effective communicator.

    We dont blame the Ford Focus for peoples bad driving do we
  7. I'm getting flashbacks to HQ IFOR (Fwd), Zagreb, Christmas 1995 - when an Intel 200mhz processor was state-of-the-art - and every Spam briefer had his bit of the PPT-based presentation linked to a hyperlink in the intro slide . . . .

    . . . . and all the presentations were HUUMUNGOUS . . . .

    . . . and they kept freezing, crashing . . .

    . . . madness.
  8. Jesus, and I thought I'd seen good examples of death by powerpoint before...

    As Meridan says, provided that you use it just to summarise what you're saying and actually know what the hell you're talking about, then Powerpoint can be highly effective for stuff like that. If not... its utterly dire.
  9. The slide is one of a series from a presentation, which is actually pretty interesting. The model is aimed identifying key nodes and linkages of the complex series of systems that is Afghanistan and the ongoing insurgency.

    The real enemy is not powerpoint, it is the poor use of it and a failure to put across information in a clear an concise way. It's here to stay, for the most part, learn to use it effectively but it is worth thinking about alternative means of presenting information.
  10. It is equally worth reflecting on the notion that - while person A will absorb words better than pictures/diagrams, person B will be the exact reverse, and there will always be a minority of maths geeks who love tables of figures (which most people choke on)

    You need to cater for all preferences (not just your own).

    You also need to not compete with yourself: lots of words on a slide = audience tries to read them, while you are saying a completely different bunch of words.

    Reading and listening use the same part of the brain - few people can read one thing and listen intently to another

    Don't use animation unless it conveys something valuable

    The list of do's/don'ts goes on and on.

    On balance, diagrams/charts/graphs beat words and numbers, provided that the verbal narrative is fluent and clear.

    Printed 'Notes pages' summarising the ideas behind the slides, are a good means of distributing textual summaries in support of slides conveying complex ideas.

    Bottom line?

    Each slide is just a 'peg' to help the audience to anchor ideas in their heads. The rest is down to the briefer.

    IMHO, of course
  11. Reading this thread reminds me of a speech I read a few years ago. It was a speech by H.E. John Raulston Saul, CC, husband of then Governor-General of Canada, H.E. Adrienne Clarkson, CC to the faculty and cadets of the Royal Military Academy, Kingston.

    It was a really excellent speech concerning challenges to the military in an era of irregular warfare. The entire speech is at Speech text linky and is well worth reading. The portion concerning Powerpoints is as follows:
    There is a great deal of truth in his thought, H.E. Mr Saul was the son of a career army officer who lived on bases all over the globe. He is a well know writer who, during his wife's vice-regal term spent much of his time assisting her in her duties representing HM in Canada. I thought his speech was interesting and thoughtful and urge you to read the full text.
  12. RIP OHP :twisted:
  13. My sentiments exactly. The flowchart used is a Causal Loop Analysis visualising the interrelations between different factors within a complex system. It is an analytical tool and not a way to present "findings/conclusions". So, whilst I agree that ppt is misused and generally/potentially (mis-)leading the audience, this slide is not the best example for this problem.
  14. A bad PowerPoint presentation can be potentially fatal. It has been suggested a confused and poorly laid-out PowerPoint presentation given by Boeing to NASA imparted the wrong impression regarding potential damage sustained to the Columbia space shuttle during its last launch.

    A report into the Columbia disaster mentioned the problem of the PowerPoint culture in NASA at the time, that it was hindering the dissemination of important information and data rather than aiding it.
  15. The first time I had to brief for the army I was surprised to see how much they relied on powerpoint. In fact when I told them I didn’t have a powerpoint presentation due to the nature of my topic they slightly panicked and instantly believed I hadn’t prepared myself. :?

    I understand people like to use (and see) complex problems broken down into visual attractive diagrams and tables. Except if a critical analysis of such problems is lacking the whole briefing is pointless anyway.

    As said by previous posters poiwerpoint can be a very useful tool if used properly. Which in my opinion means: get your briefing sorted first (i.e. what’s the message you want to deliver?) then open powerpoint to make the slides. And that’s where the problem lies. Many people can’t present or tell a story in a coherent manner (beginning, middle and end) or present a structured analysis.

    Powerpoint can’t be blamed for all the muppets using it. Like last month: a 1 hour briefing by an officer about mission experience meant being dragged through 136 (!) slides.