PowerPoint printouts used for communicating battle plans?
The slideshow...

PowerPointification of military briefings

QuestiommarkAs a follow-up to the post below, I would like to point you to an interview between host Leonard Lopate of New York Public Radio and the author of Fiasco, Thomas Ricks.

At the very end of the interview (go to the 30:00 min mark), Ricks talks about the problem of communicating with bulleted briefing slides. As he says, the typical PPT slide-as-document used in briefings is something that is confusing because, as a document, "...it [slide] tends to lack verbs and connecting thought." Says Ricks:

"One of the things I admired most about Col. H.R. McMaster  — [one of the] smaller things, but it pleased me as a writer —  he banned PowerPoint in his command. If you wanted to talk [about] something, if you wanted to make a briefing, you were to write it out in plain, understandable English that had verbs and connective tissue inside it."

Imagine: a document with clear, well-written, understandable English with verbs, and a cohesive logical flow. Anything is possible...

Download the MP3 here, or go to the site here for more listening options.

Watch the Jon Stewart interview with Thomas Ricks (3 parts) on the Comedy Central site.

Unrelated to PPT and military briefings per se — but related to visual communication and presentations in general — many of you will find the interview with computer scientist, Jaron Lanier, on "Why Videocommunication Didn't Catch On" quite interesting. Scroll down this page to see the links to this interview on the same Leonard Lopate show.


Dick Rowan

In my mind, Tufte had the final word on ppt.

Bashing the medium is diversionary. At the root of it, many of us have nothing new or meaningful to add to the dialog. We have yet to learn how to think critically.

Whether we use bullet points, sentences, or even mime...it does not matter.

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