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January 03, 2007

Captain Travis Patriquin, "good in the woods".

This is old news in the sense that this broke into the news cycle around December 15 on ABC. I missed it because I was involved in the Specialist McGinniss story and it was further swamped by the death of Marine Major Megan McClung, which is interesting, since Captain Travis Patriquin died in the same IED explosion. This won't be news for some of you, but for others, it will. It came to me from a different source, so, even late, I'm posting it, if for no other reason than a cyber-memorial to Captain Patriquin and as a source for those who may not have yet seen it.

Captain Travis Patriquin's "How to Win In Anbar."

Given what has and hasn't worked thus far, there's no reason this shouldn't be on the table. Granted, Blackfive has posted on it, and it got a blurb at Milblogs, when I googled it, it was mostly news and lefty sites that came up, nature of how google operates.

I suppose I *should* do some value-added:

From Martha Raddatz's article (the ABC reference above):

In a military known for its sleep-inducing, graphically dizzying PowerPoint presentations, the young captain's presentation, which has been unofficially circulating through the ranks, stands out. Using stick figures and simple language, it articulates the same goal as the president's in Iraq.

Powerpoint - one of the greatest obstacles to communication ever created. Not Microsoft's fault - the users misuse it. Just like it isn't Ford's fault people flee crimes in a Ford, it's not really Microsoft's fault that people create crimes with Powerpoint. It's called restraint, people.

Which brings to mind an AUSA Convention I attended in the 90's. I was walking down the hall where the breakout rooms were and I saw a group of officers standing in the hall looking into a room. On the screen was a Powerpoint presentation that had all the bells and whistles - graphics sliding in from the sides, fades, dissolves, cute noises - all the things that annoy me about Powerpoint and people who can't control their urges to destroy a briefing. The kicker was two guys walking by with divisional patches on their shoulders - they took a look in the room and said "Huh, must be a TRADOC briefing. No one else has the time for that crap."


My other pet peeve? People who don't understand the embedded meta-data in their presentations - generating 50 meg presentations they could reduce to two - if they'd just compress/convert their graphics. You know, that sexy graphic, with 200 graphic elements, each merely a re-sized full-size graphic stolen from some other presentation and "grouped," so that each contains the full data of the original.

Comments on Captain Travis Patriquin, "good in the woods".
MajMike briefed on January 3, 2007 08:02 AM

back in '90, when i did CAS3, my small group instructor said we could use three colors on any one slide, as long as two of them were black and white, and the red or blue was used for underlining.

and by the second to last brief, he actually did let us use a computer program instead of grease pencils and flimsies.

Barb briefed on January 3, 2007 09:47 AM

Good 'points' all (pun intended). In fact, I imagine that you won't be surprised to find out that users in high tech organizations have similar problems in designing efficient presentations. The other pet peeve I have is animation madness. Unless the slide is showing a process in steps, for instance, don't animate all the crap on it! It's nothing but distracting - and that is the ultimate sin for any presentation.

LarryK briefed on January 3, 2007 10:09 AM

My personal rules for PPT:

White background with dark lettering keeps people awake and can be used in in low light rooms as opposed to dark rooms which allows people to sleep.

PPT is a NOTES program not a text or word prcessing program so no more than five lines to a slide no more than 5 words to a line -- and that is pushing it -- don't write a book.

No bells and whistles. If you want to have lines enter one at a time copy the previous slide and add a line. The next slide feature seldom breaks while animated entries often do.

John of Argghhh! briefed on January 3, 2007 10:19 AM

Wow, Larry. Pretty strict. If I followed those rules, my 35 slide presentation to the Heffalumps would have been over 150.

Obviously, there are some situation awareness things you have to consider, the subject and audience being the most important.

Around here, we worry about... line spacing. And quibble about font sizes.

Though, to be honest, most of the rules we follow here are useful. Especially the one about each slide being able to stand-alone.

BillT briefed on January 3, 2007 11:05 AM

Still got my markers and I've still got the OHP slides I did for the Aviation Warrant Senior Course in '91: "How to Properly Peel a Banana."

The lone female in the class did her presentation on the "Briefing Medium of the Future -- PowerPoint."

Gotta give her major points for prognostication, but mine was funnier -- and it only took me an hour to put the six slides together. Poor Lyn worked on her show for a month...

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