Bullets are for guns.

I was at a meeting recently with a local township official, and when I asked about what highlights we should know about his community, he left the room.  He quickly and enthusiastically returned with a huge power point deck titled “State of the Township.”  All I could see was page after page of bullet points.

Knowing I wasn’t interested in the detail of how their road kill eradication was going (presuming it was one of the hundreds of points), I just simply asked: ‘Can you tell me the top 3 things we should know about your township?’

He hesitated.  And then said, “Well, we really have 15 great points, I’m not sure which 3 to pick.  Maybe the schools?  Maybe our ranking as a healthy community? I’m not sure, I’ll have to ask around and see what other messages may resonate.”

Bang bang.  His message died right there.  A missed opportunity.  And in some essence, an unveiling of his lack of clear vision and leadership for his community.

So on occasion, I curse the slide, as it allows people to avoid telling a story.  But in this case, and more frequently, I’m blaming the bullet point.

A thousand good ideas have a place in your presentation or message when they are tightly grouped, edited and organized.   But when ideas simply get translated into bullets, it shoots unnecessary holes in what should be a memorable, repeatable message and story.