Week 4 – Informative Briefing
Everyone freaks out about the briefings. Don’t do it! It really does make it much harder. The people who majorly stressed out about the briefings are the same people who struggled with passing. They were so worried about filling it with the best information that they forgot about getting all of the points for the small things such as verbal references, quotes, or slide layout. The people who did the best at the briefings were the ones who quite literally just threw it together. They did the research, kept the sources to the minimum (three for me), and put it all on a slide. Once you KNOW your material the delivery just happens. Don’t recite your briefing over and over in your head because it will then be recited from memory which you could fail for. Your briefing needs to be prepared but not memorized. This is not a ceremony, it is you researching a topic and telling your chalk-mates about what you learned. Have fun with the briefing! It will make the entire experience better for everyone.
Our informative briefing was scheduled for the first thing on Monday morning, which was great because it gave us the weekend to prepare. About a week prior to the briefing we had a class called Informative Briefing Requirements which laid out everything we needed to know about the briefing. One of the biggest things for us was that we were not with our normal flight for the briefings, we were in a different group called a chalk. Our chalks had a few people from every squadron which was great because we got to know some of our other class mates. The Cadet Wing (CW) MSG/CC was tasked with putting the chalks together. Being in a chalk also meant most of the chalk was with a different Flight Commander. This was also great because it allowed us to get to know some of the other staff.
The briefing is not very much different than the briefing I had to do for Airman Leadership School (ALS). ALS is a course Senior Airman (E-4) have to go through in order to sew on Staff Sergeant (E-5). Bear in mind I went through ALS in 2008 so things may have changed since then. In general you will choose a topic that you want to inform your audience about. There were a list of canned topics but we were also able to choose our own. The execution and grading of the briefings varied drastically from Flt/CC to Flt/CC. Every Flt/CC was different and did things a little differently, but some things were the same for all. Everyone had to use the same OTS Form to grade the briefing, and everyone did an informative briefing IAW the course curriculum.
If you have to do a briefing about the domains in a country, there is strategy involved with choosing your domains. You want to pick domains that you can find information about (but not too much information), and domains which can all be tied together. One of the biggest things people struggle with is transitioning from one topic (or domain) to another during the briefing. Don’t pick the same domains that everyone else picks. Pick the ones that interest you because you will speak much better about topics you are interested about. The briefing should not sound like Ferris Bueller’s teacher, but should sound like you just discovered these awesome things about your country and MUST tell your friends about it. The not too much information part is key as well. If you have too much information, you will be tempted to talk for too long. There are only a few automatic failures, but going under or over your time limit is one of them. I think every chalk had someone who was close to failing, or failed because of the time limit. You will only need 1-2 facts about each domain to fill in the speech.
As far as the rest of your briefing, everything you need to know is on the grading sheet (OTS Form 6 and the AU Style Guide. The style guide is kind of like the Tongue and Quill, which is the go-to reference EVERYONE uses for Air Force correspondence (and other topics). The biggest thing here is to pay attention. In order to receive max points you have to know the requirements.
- The briefing must be 5-9 minutes.
- DON’T OVER-PREPARE. Do your research, put your slides together, and deliver your speech.
- My research was 100% online.
- My sources were news sources, CIA factbook, encyclopedia. They will tell you this 100 times but Wikipedia is off limits.
- If you shoot for 1-2 facts per source, 1-2 slides per source, 1 slide intro, 1 slide conclusion, you will probably be right around 7 minutes.
- Be mindful of verbal pauses such as “um, so, okay.” Lots of people lost points for these.
- The briefing is part of your GPA, but the Advocacy Briefing is worth more than the Informative Briefing.
- Most failures were due to busting the time limit.
- Our chalk probably lost 10 points per person on average because we didn’t standardize our slides! This is one of the few times in OTS when standardization actually matters. We all sat in a room to standardize together but another option is to have one person go through all of the slides prior to submission. 10 points was huge since I think 80 was passing.