Do Bullets Kill Decision-Making?
What’s the true problem with bullet points? Whether you are on the making or receiving end of presentations, point-by-point display has a definite influence on the outcome.
The US Army reports that misuse of PowerPoint is a huge issue. See The New York Times Article
According to General McMaster, quoted in the New York Times, the “worst offense is a rigid list of bullet points that take no account of interconnected political, economic and ethnic forces.”
Bullet points have a powerful effect.
It may currently be used to communicate in ways it was never originally intended for.
Some organizations tolerate this as a necessary state. Others are actively rebelling.
The military in particular is on the warpath.
PowerPoint is the antithesis of thinking, according to T.X. Hammes, in “Dumb-Dumb Bullets,” a July 2009 essay published in the Armed Forces Journal, http://armedforcesjournal.com/2009/07/4061641/
“Make no mistake, PowerPoint is not a neutral tool — it is actively hostile to thoughtful decision-making,” asserts Hammes.
In this essay, he details the many aspects that PowerPoint has affected, and deteriorated the decision-making process in the armed services.
Stop for a moment. Consider. What does this supporting or stifling decision-making? Are you achieving the impact you desire?
If you find that the use of slides is limiting or negatively impacting decision-making, use these four tips.
Tip 1: Discuss First
Open up a conversational discussion with your audience. Don’t turn to slides until you’ve talked about key issues. If the discussion goes longer than your allotted time, skip the slides.
You’ll have a powerful conversation with your audience and laid the foundation for smart decision-making. Your slides will not add more value to the process.
Tip 2. Provide Information In Written Form
Instead of relying exclusively on one media, expand your options. Write a 1-page or 2-page brief. Provide this brief in advance to your audience and key decision-makers.
This is especially important when working cross culturally or with audiences who speak different languages. Providing documents in advance is a gesture of courtesy. It allows everyone time to literally get on the same page.
Tip 3. Convey Ideas Visually
Use visual charts to show your story. Provide these in advance so participants can familiarize themselves with your content. Show process with visual charts and diagrams to convey information.
By working visually people with different decision-making styles will understand what you are presenting.
Are you supporting effective decision-making? As you prepare your next presentation, look for opportunities to share the full story. When you do this, you will create comments like these:
• “I’m so glad we had a chance to discuss the issues fully.”
• “I appreciate reading the brief before meeting. It helped me be completely prepared.”
• “The visual chart made a world of difference.”
Your creative actions foster open dialogue, peace of mind, and shared understanding. Think outside the bullet point!