He sat in the darkness, waiting. His lips moved in silent prayer as the moment of truth approached, while all around him the casualties mounted. As he stood, he peered into the shadows, knowing that somewhere – out there – he was waiting for him.
He wanted to escape, but that option had expired long ago. Then, as if in a dream he heard his name being called and he knew his time had come. He stood, trying to fight the shaking in his legs. He wanted to scream, to cry, but somehow he summoned the strength to remain silent. As he shuffled to the appointed place, he peered again into the darkness, and in the faint light he could see the one in whose hands his fate balanced precariously. It was the Admiral, and he wanted his brief.
For some people – the Type A people – briefing is an exhiliaration. It’s a chance to show off their public speaking skills and flaunt their knowledge.
I am not one of those people.
According to Patricia Marten DiBartolo, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Smith College, “Public Speaking fear ranks in the top three most feared situations…” Even above death.
Well, I have news for Dr. DiBartolo. For many briefers, public speaking IS death.
There are many things that can go wrong with a brief, but the one that injects fear directly into the veins of all briefers is when the brief doesn’t even show up on the screen. Instead, viewers are met with the dreaded hour glass of death.
As if computer problems aren’t enough to destroy a briefer’s confidence, someone with no sense of humanity replaced the trusty wooden pointers with a new device designed to fail at precisely the moment it is needed most: the laser pointer.
But despite the hazards of the job, hundreds – probably thousands – of briefers march to the front of the room every day, stare defiantly into the light of the projector, and provide the knowledge that keeps our military running. They are the Power Point Rangers, and I salute them.