Friday, May 10, 2013

PowerPoint fatigue

I'm a little exhausted with lengthy PowerPoint presentations filled with annoying animations and transitions, too many slides, small fonts and lots of words.  In fact, I'm a little tired of computer presentations generally.  I point the finger in the mirror, because I've been as guilty as anyone. These days, my Keynote and PowerPoint presentations are shorter and contain fewer words than ever, and I've finally learned to ease up on the trickery in favor of subtle animation.

In fact, of late I have increasingly forgone the projector and computer entirely, and just talked at more events. Such was the case yesterday at Leadership Lincoln, where I was asked to present for about 35 minutes about public safety issues to a group of about 30 movers and shakers who are the fellows in the current class.  Rather than a collection of groovy slides, I handed out a sheet of paper with a few conversation starters, and let the audience decide what they wanted to have me elaborate on or explain.  I think my blog is evidence that I could do this for a long, long time before I drew a complete blank, but here's the little list I used yesterday.

  • Of all the incidents handled by Lincoln Fire & Rescue, 76% are medical emergencies.
  • Only about half of our ambulance billings are actually paid. 
  • Lincoln is a great place to have a heart attack.  From the time our paramedics are at a patient’s side until the time blood flow to the heart is restored at a hospital is 67.9 minutes. The national standard is 90 minutes—but that is from the time the patient arrives at the hospital.
  • Lincoln hasn't added a fire station since 1996. Since that time, we've added 50,000 citizens.
  • 8,469 addresses in Lincoln are more than 4 minutes in travel time from a fire station.
  • Lincoln Fire & Rescue is one of 28 Urban Search and Rescue Teams in the United States.
  • There are 733 Gang members and 31 gangs known to LPD as of noon.
  • Yesterday, among the 345 incidents handled by LPD were 22 traffic crashes, 6 assaults, 4 sexual assaults, 6 missing persons, 52 disturbances, 8 mental health emergencies, and 10 child abuse/neglect cases.
  • There were 1,194 false fire alarms in Lincoln last year, and 2,384 false burglar alarms:  35 false alarms were at a single restaurant, but they were beat out by one other facility….
  • Lincoln has 320 police officers, and is the smallest police department per capita in the State, 1.22 officers per 1,000 population.  The national average is 2.4 officers per 1,000. If we were the same size per capita as Omaha, we would need to add 172 officers.  To be the same size per capita as Grand Island, we would need to add 91.
  • Google this:  “Lincoln police” GIS


Tim Hegarty said...

If you're tired of PowerPoint, take a look at

Anonymous said...

Is there any coordinated effort among the various Police Agencies, Sheriffs Departments and the Department of Corrections to share intelligence information about gang proliferation? An accurate database with pictures of various gang tattoos and what they mean might even be nice if it was available to the general public.

It disturbs me when I am shopping at WalMart or other places around Lincoln and I see what I know to be gang related tattoos proudly displayed by so many. It is my opinion that when a tattoo identifying the wearer as a member of a criminal organization is visible THAT should be probable cause to search that person. I am sure the ACLU sees it differently.

Way back in the 1990s there was concern about the influx of various gangs being brought into our state and allowed to recruit new members while incarcerated. This is a cancer that is spreading and it may require drastic steps to excise it.

I plan on watching the season finale of BLUE BLOODS that will air tonight. That episode deals with the issue. It will be interesting to see how Hollywood solves the problem.

Gun Nut

Christopher Bruce said...

I couldn't agree more. At conference after conference, it feels like everyone has forgotten that other methods of conducting a session--moderated discussion, hands-on lessons, role-playing, demonstration, or just a good, old-fashioned speech--even exist. And, like you, I have to direct the harshest criticism here at myself.

I feel that the types of organizations that ask us to speak ought to do more to encourage alternatives to PowerPoint, but they essentially do the opposite by asking for "a copy of your presentation" ahead of time. My feeling is that if a presentation can be "copied," it's not much of a presentation.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, city gubmint decided to build a cool arena, so the money that might have gone to pay some portion of that 172 officers and fund the necessary facilities/equipment isn't available.

Oh, well, the important thing is that taxpayer money went into the "right" pockets. Re-election is right around the corner. If anyone is tired of having an understaffed PD, they should remember to vote.

Michelle said...

I second the Prezi motion. The best part is the library of ready made presentations from the share section. I recently needed a presentation on social media and found one that I could just adapt instead of building my own...

Anonymous said...

I like using and watching power-point. It not only makes it more bearable to watch the average mediocre presenter, it also helps the same mediocre speaker be more confident in their presentation. Not everyone is as confident in their public speaking abilities as you. I hope the fatigue you’re experiencing in watching others try to do their best does not become too unbearable for you.

Tom Casady said...


That was supposed to be primarily self critical, and a description of my effort to find more interactive ways of engaging an audience, as an alternative. PowerPoint is still a good tool, I just intend to use it more as an adjunct rather than a centerpiece. My formula is fewer slides, less words, and subtler transitions--and bagging it entirely in some cases.

Tom Casady said...


Tried it a year or two ago and was intrigued. Never really put it into my workflow, though, because the iPad came along and pretty much revolutionized presentations for me. I'll bet Prezi on a tablet would be pretty sweet. Might have to look into that.

Anonymous said...

Tom, I find it interesting that over the years no matter who is Mayor, we still fall far behind the State or National average in Police Officers per capita. I also find it amazing that our Police Officers work under these conditions for what pay they receive. And yet no one is changing this practice. Another thing about our Police Officers is that the work load expected of the street/patrol officers far exceeds the normal duties for that position in other departments. Street Officers just up the road in Omaha are not allowed to conduct investigations which our Officers do here. Checking the Lincoln Fire Union's recent contract, the receive extra pay for all the extra certifications/jobs that they do. How come the Police are treated so special by this City???

Anonymous said...

Appreciate your point about the per capita ratio of officers.
I think what that bullet point needs is some context for the uninformed about what that would cost.

In other words add something that says, the average cost of a police officer is $82,000 or whatever so adding 172 officers would cost X.

And of course, you don't add 172 officers w/o new cars, a couple of sergeants etc.

I think it would bring home the message that LPD does a lot more w/ less than other departments.

Steve said...

I think the per capita question is not what it would cost, but how necessary it is. Would we solve or prevent a significantly higher number of crimes with more officers? Would we dedicate more officers to traffic control, and would that reduce offenses or make driving safer? Are crimes going unsolved now due to a lack of officers? Would we use additional officers as security for schools, assign specific "beats" for them, go back to having officers for funeral processions, or exactly how would we use them?

Tom Casady said...


It would cost about $14 Million annually tyo add 172 police officers. Lincoln's police force is an exceptional bargain, as I have often mentioned in my blog.


Collective bargaining for public employees in Nebraska takes place within the legal framework of comparability, established by State law. Salaries and benefits, therefore, will tend to be near the midpoint of the same jobs in other, similar cities. Generally speaking, unions are in the business of trying to negotiate the best possible pay and benefits for their members, but the range of motion is mighty small due to the parameters established by law.

Anonymous said...

Here is very recent incident that tied up a lot of personnel from two agencies (occasional profanity warning):

Bar Break

Anonymous said...

I realize it's good business to do more with less. It looks great on paper and the bottom line to see what Lincoln Police is able to accomplish being as understaffed as they are. I'm sure the tax payers appriciate not having to round up another 14 million to get the department fully staffed. I do have a question though. What is the impact on the officers who have to work so understaffed? I would guess it's probably an added stress to an already difficult job. I'm curious to what the morale of a typical street officer is.

Tom Casady said...


My first 6 years as police chief, we were actually grown the department at about twice the rate of population growth, and eventually hitting 1.39 officers per 1,000. Since 2000, it's been all downhill, and we are now at 1.22 per 1,000. We're not alone. This has occurred nationwide as a result of economic conditions facing local governments.

We have coped with this reality in two ways: trying to deploy technology that improves capabilities (mobile data computers, GIS, field reporting, online reporting, etc.); and dropping several call types from the workload, thus reducing the number of CFS (calls for service) to which police officers would otherwise be dispatched.

The latter has been especially effective. In 1991, Lincoln police officers responded to 125,140 dispatches. In 2012, that number was 123,595. So in 22 years, the number of dispatches has actually fallen, while the population during that same time period has increased by 67,000 and the number of police officers has increased by 76.

Anonymous said...

We spend a lot of money preparing for "the big one." The "big one" may very well be a couple of smaller incidents that occur at the same time which stretch the available resources to the breaking point.