What a 2LT needs to know about briefings

Hello future leaders of our United States Army.  My name is Michael Fraley and I am attending the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and I have been given the opportunity to share some experiences with you. 

A little about me.  I was a regular Army Ordnance officer for 10 years with an additional two years in the Kentucky National Guard.  I attended Eastern Kentucky University on a 4-year ROTC scholarship.   I have served in multiple leadership, staff, and command positions in Germany, Oklahoma, Iowa, and taught ROTC in West Virginia.  I am currently serving as an Army civilian with US Army TACOM with the New Equipment Training group.  I have briefed at many different levels including 4-star generals, the Sergeant Major of the Army, Senior Executive Service leaders and many levels inbetween.  I have multiple years as an instructor for soldiers, cadets, and civilians and have experienced most things that can happen in a classroom short of a death (close call) and a birth.

SUCCESSFUL  Briefings begin with being prepared.  You have to know more about your topic than your audience and the only way to know your audience is research.  One of the first questions that you should ask is “who am I speaking to and what is the primary message I want to pass on to them.”  You are in a position of power and authority simply because you are the speaker. 

Your audience expects to learn something from you and they will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are the “expert” on what you are going to present.  This is absolutely true until you have been introduced and you are standing in front of them and say “Hello”.  Now your audience will be interested in you and only you.  They will look at your appearance, your haircut, your clothing, your mannerisms, if you bring coffee or water to the podium, if you are fidgeting, if you are sweating, if you mumble, if you are a statue behind the podium, if you talk to the slides, if you read the slides, if you say annoying phrases over and over and over (uh, ok, right).  They are consciously or unconsciously trying to find fault.  Not nice, but reality.  The secret to winning this initial skirmish is to get their attention  up front and focus on your presentation, not on you.  Some folks can tell jokes (make sure you have a sense of humor and it is an appropriate joke) some folks play a movie clip, some folks just start talking about their topic.  BLUF: Use the technique that is right for you and try not to be someone you are not. 

I know this is a lot of pressure knowing that your entire audience is looking at you trying to find fault, but knowing this up front will actually give you the edge.  You will be prepared, you will be rehearsed, your appearance will be flawless, and you will have done the research ahead of time to prepare you for the sharpshooting that will begin, hopefully, at the end of your presentation. 

The number one fear of most people is public speaking.  It is OK to be scared, it is OK to be nervous, it is not OK to be unprepared.


Welcome and Glad to be here

Future Lieutenants,
First let me say that, on behalf of Staff Group 10D, we are glad to be here and a big thanks to you all and the cadre for giving us this opportunity. We look forward to sharing our thoughts on the topics you all will be studying for class and answering your questions along the way. Please feel free to ask questions about the topics in the threads. I will talk with LTC Basso and see if we can’t get a “General Questions” thread going as we get to know each other. I would suggest to you to take full advantage of the anonymity that you have here. There are very few times in your career that you will be able to ask questions without your peers labelling good questions as “stupid.” Good luck and we look forward to getting to know you all.

Welcome and Blog Rules


In advance let me thank the Fort Leavenworth Intermediate Level Education Students for sharing their thoughts this semester.  They will post a weekly blog entry.  Your role is to comment on that blog entry by clicking on the comment button.  Your comments are anonymous (as long as you pick a non-obvious username), so ask any questions that you might have and air your honest opinion on a topic.  Further, you may comment on each other’s comments as long as you keep it professional.  Finally, I am encouraging you to pepper your comments with what you have learned from your readings and from platoonleader.army.mil — comments are good, informed comments are better.

LTC Basso