Over the past few years, a veritable who’s who of business leaders (from Virgin’s Richard Branson, to Tesla’s Elon Musk, to Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg) have outwardly questioned the effectiveness of traditional PowerPoint presentations while gushing over the benefits of good-old-fashioned narrative.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s 54-year-old founder, first revealed the “No PowerPoint” rule in this year’s annual letter to shareholders.
“We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon,” Mr Bezos wrote. “Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos. We silently read one at the beginning of each meeting in a kind of ‘study hall.'”
Instead of passively listening to dull PowerPoint presentations, everyone sits silently for 30 minutes and reads a “six-page memo that’s narratively structured with real sentences, topic sentences, verbs and nouns… not just bullet points.”
Jeff Bezos is not a fan of PowerPoint presentations. One of his golden rule is that PowerPoint is banned in executive meetings. What he replaced it with provides even more valuable insight for entrepreneurs and leaders.
Anytime an Amazon worker has an idea to discuss, they’re asked to structure their pitch in the form of a four-to-six-page memo, which the company calls a “narrative.”
Meetings start with each attendee sitting and silently reading a “six-page, narratively-structured memo” for about the first 30 minutes of the meeting.
″[The memo is] supposed to create the context for what will then be a good discussion,” Bezos said.
Those participating are encouraged to take notes, and after the reading period is over, they discuss the memo.
Since briefing documents are (at least) twice as time-efficient as PowerPoint and tend to eliminate the most useless meetings, by replacing PowerPoint with briefing documents, Bezos effectively increased company-wide management productivity by at least 25 percent.