Amazon Meetings: NO POWERPOINTS!

Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon

It is not hard to agree that Amazon is one of the world’s strongest brands and has become a part of every day life for millions of online shoppers and book lovers world wide.

Startups globally look to Amazon for inspiration and in my own search for the secrets of this tech giant, I found out something that nearly blew me off my chair.

Amazon’s Meetings do NOT use Powerpoints…

This was especially very hard to accept for me because of my own dependance on Powerpoint or Keynote presentations in my daily work life. I found it hard to imagine how it would be possible for me to communicate anything without using powerpoint.

However, when I learnt more about why Amazon doesn’t use powerpoint presentations, I started to see the magic which could very well be one of the reasons why Amazon is so successful and influential.

From sources within the company, I found out that instead of a powerpoint presentation, employees were told to write a “6 page memo” or as the leadership team in Amazon calls it: “the 6 page Narrative.”

Here’s how it works:

  1. The Presenter sits down and must explain his/her idea or concept within 6 pages in narrative style writing. This is the framework which they follow:

i) Define the context of the question

ii) Approaches to answering the question — by whom, by which method, and their conclusions

iii) How is the presenter’s answer different or the same compared to previous attempts at answering the question

iv) Now what? — that is, what’s in it for the customer, the company, and how does the answer to the question enable innovation on behalf of the customer?

Jeff Bezos argues that in writing a 6 page narrative, “When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences, complete paragraphs it forces a deeper clarity.”

Also, in traditional powerpoint presentations, most information is presented in bullet points making it easier for the presenter while giving less information for the audience to digest. The 6 page narrative flips this around and makes the presenter think harder and deeper allowing the audience to get a much better understanding of the content being shared.

2. For the first 30 minutes of a meeting, all members will sit and read carefully the 6 page narrative in silence.

  • This is particularly important because it forces all employees to respect the hard work that had been put into the 6 page narrative by the presenter unlike in powerpoint presentations where people constantly interrupt asking questions that would end up being answered in later slides.

So maybe next time you think of presenting, it might be worthwhile to consider writing a 6 page narrative instead. ;)

Let me know what you think.

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