PowerPoint and the military

PowerPoint is under military investigation. The New York times reports: “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint” with an eloquent and provocative title, inspired by the so called spaghetti slide (see figure below). The leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan comment on the regards of this slide: “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” (NYT April 26, 2010). And he is not alone in thinking that Powerpoint is not the most suitable tool to display complex and relevant information for the military corps: the NYT article reports the complaints of a number of commanders, captains and generals.

More recently (15 Oct 2010) CNN reported that an army officer in Afghanistan was fired after publishing an essay complaining about useless PowerPoints. The “Why we hate PowerPoints — and how to fix them” article is authored by Nanacy Duarte, the famous design of Al Gore’s presentation on climate change. She argues that “PowerPoint isn’t inherently bad — just misunderstood” and provides  few tips for good presentations. It is key to have a good story, to use narrative techniques to connect the audience and move them to action; “Unfortunately, the development of presentations is a skill that is rarely taught and for which few sources of best practices exist. ”

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