– How to ruin a great idea by presenting it badly
It's June 4, 1940, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill stands before the British House of Commons, ready to report on the successful evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk. The nation is euphoric: despite terrible losses of both men and equipment, more than 300,000 Allied troops have been rescued from the jaws of the advancing Germans. But Churchill's task is not to celebrate this unexpected deliverance. He needs to prepare the British people for darker days ahead, as the army licks its wounds, as factory workers strain to replace lost planes, vehicles, and weapons, and as Hitler's army readies itself for an invasion. Maybe most important of all, he has to issue a clear appeal to the United States: Europe needs help.
He's made some important presentations in his time, but probably none as important as this one.
He clears his throat, jingling the keys and loose change in his pocket as he consults his notes one last time. Then he hits the advance button on his laptop. A title spirals onto the screen, halting at the top and leaving a large, teasing expanse of white space below.
Now he speaks. “Dunkirk,” he says. “What went wrong?”
All eyes are on the screen, drawn inexorably ...