Leadership: April 29, 2000


General Hugh Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has issued an order calling for PowerPoint presentations sent through the military Email channels to be stripped of unnecessary graphic and sound effects. Graphics of exploding tanks and rotating pie charts take up a lot of bandwidth that simply isn't necessary. Microsoft PowerPoint, a powerful presentation software program used to create slideshows for generals and corporate executives, has run amuck in the military. While briefings 20 years ago included a dozen slides created on a drafting table, presentations today can easily exceed 100 slides complete with the sound of gunfire. Officers now compete for the highest production values, fearing that if the other briefings given to the same generals show more "Hollywood" aspects, their own careers could be ruined. Officers are terrified that the one fact they leave out of their presentation might be the one the general asks about, and so they include everything that even looks like a fact. While countless articles and orders have been written decrying PowerPoint, its use continues to increase, and now even allied officers (who can barely comprehend the blizzard of PowerPoint slides used at US briefings) are picking up the software, assuming it to be the only way to communicate with their US counterparts.--Stephen V Cole 


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