Amazon Staff Meetings: “No Powerpoint”

“We have study hall at the beginning of our meetings.” says Jeff Bezos.

Staff meetings at Amazon begin with 30 minutes of silent reading.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com

Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com

Powerpoint is easy for presenter, hard for audience

“The traditional kind of corporate meeting starts with a presentation. Somebody gets up in front of the room and presents with a powerpoint presentation, some type of slide show.  In our view you get very little information, you get bullet points.  This is easy for the presenter, but difficult for the audience.  And so instead, all of our meetings are structured around a 6 page narrative memo.”

All meetings are structured around a 6 page memo

“When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences, complete paragraphs it forces a deeper clarity.”

Why don’t you read the memos in advance?

“Time doesnt come from nowhere. This way you know everyone has the time. The author gets the nice warm feeling of seeing their hard work being read.”

“If you have a traditional ppt presentation, executives interrupt.  If you read the whole 6 page memo, on page 2 you have a question but on on page 4 that question is answered.”

And so that is what we do, we just sit and read.

“Think Complex, Speak Simple”

I love this idea.  In our communications courses we talk about “think complex, speak simple”.  It is hard work to prepare well enough to be able to speak simple.  Most presenters are figuring out what they really want to say as they are presenting.  This is a terrible waste of an audience.

These quotes come from the Charlie Rose interview with Jeff Bezos.  It is available here: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12656

Discussion of this Post

Twitter:

 

Lots of Debate on Reddit:

Main Discussion Page http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1ebavs/amazon_staff_meetings_no_powerpoint/

  • [friedice5005] Powerpoint isn’t the problem. It’s a very useful tool to augment information you are trying to get across. The problem is people people who are bad at it using it as a crutch. Powerpoint should basically be an outline of what you’re talking about with MAJOR discussion points and any images or graphs you need to show. It should not be blocks of text that you read verbatim.
  • [via Yajirobi ] if you dont integrate people into it, they just sleep. Forcing them with made up questions is a bad idea too. Getting random questions from the audience is the best way to do it. Its a GIFT. They make the presentation good for you, without any effort from your part.
  • [via EngineerVsMBA]I experienced this system, and I loved it. I will use it in every job from here on out. Let me explain why:1.) It requires meaningful preparation by the presenter. They cannot hide behind pretty slides, and you can’t use the usual confusion tactics. If you can’t fit it in six pages, you didn’t prepare enough.

    2.) You know everyone is going to read it.

    3.) These meetings are intense! The participants can’t just sit back and relax. They are digging into it. If you are the presenter, you can use that time to send some emails, or do some other work.

    4.) People with poor communication skills can’t suck the life out of a meeting. It allows good ideas to come out. There is always that guy that talks too much, and this meeting shuts him up.

    5.) This isn’t for the every-day meeting. This is for the multi-million-dollar business deal. Anything you would typically reserve for an hour-long power-point presentation.

    Power-point is for selling a concept or an idea. The written word is for discussion. Anyways, a good exec will print out the power points and make notes on those anyways. Might as well tell him exactly what you think instead of letting him interpret your spoken word.

Related Posts on Meetings:

75 comments

  1. Helpful information. Fortunate me I discovered your website unintentionally, and I’m surprised why this accident did not took place earlier!

    I bookmarked it.

  2. […] quoted from his interview with Jeff Bezos by Conor Neill, “Amazon Staff Meetings: ‘No PowerPoint'”. In it, Bezos […]

  3. Extraordinary practice. I’ve transformed a 8000 statement bit of dissection and understanding into 15 Powerpoint pages, which I’m going to get individuals to quiet perused at the begin of our gathering. I’ll send it out ahead of time yet without the desire that individuals will set aside a few minutes to peruse it. At that point I’m going to ask individuals to converse with their neighbor about the three things that most incited their reasoning. At that point open up for dialog. I think the matching x 3 things is a decent approach to filter through to the key issues that are in individuals’ personalities.

  4. I think this is among the most significant information for me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But wanna
    remark on some general things, The site style is perfect,
    the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

  5. […] Amazon Staff Meetings: “No Powerpoint” – Jeff Bezos doesn’t like powerpoint – easy for presenter, hard for audience […]

  6. Everything is very open with a precise description of the issues.
    It was really informative. Your site is extremely helpful.

    Many thanks for sharing!

  7. […] presentations. He’s not alone: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is well-known for his practice of banning PowerPoint from the board room. But here’s the thing: bad presentations aren’t the […]

  8. Check it out

  9. […] with attendees before the meeting. This small change, advocated by innovative organizations like Amazon and LinkedIn, ensures that limited meeting time is used for high-value discussion and decision […]

  10. […] with attendees before the meeting. This small change, advocated by innovative organizations like Amazon and LinkedIn, ensures that limited meeting time is used for high-value discussion and decision […]

  11. […] with attendees before the meeting. This small change, advocated by innovative organizations like Amazon and LinkedIn, ensures that limited meeting time is used for high-value discussion and decision […]

  12. […] with attendees before the meeting. This small change, advocated by innovative organizations like Amazon and LinkedIn, ensures that limited meeting time is used for high-value discussion and decision […]

  13. […] with attendees before the meeting. This small change, advocated by innovative organizations like Amazon and LinkedIn, ensures that limited meeting time is used for high-value discussion and decision […]

  14. […] with attendees before the meeting. This small change, advocated by innovative organizations like Amazon and LinkedIn, ensures that limited meeting time is used for high-value discussion and decision […]

  15. […] with attendees before the meeting. This small change, advocated by innovative organizations like Amazon and LinkedIn, ensures that limited meeting time is used for high-value discussion and decision […]

  16. Great work! This is the type of info that are meant to be shared across the
    internet. Shame on Google for not positioning this post higher!
    Come on over and consult with my web site . Thank
    you =)

  17. […] There are 6 steps to take effective business decisions.  People should follow these 6 steps in their preparation to explain their thinking to the rest of the group.  Amazon require that the person writes out a 6 page written memo walking through the recommendation.  Jeff Bezos requires 30 minutes of silent reading at the beginning of the meetings before questions and discussion.  Read more about Amazon’s “No Powerpoint” rule. […]

  18. Great practice. I’ve turned an 8000 word piece of analysis and insight into 15 PowerPoint pages, which I’m going to get people to silent read at the start of our meeting. I’ll send it out in advance but without the expectation that people will make time to read it. Then I’m going to ask people to talk to their neighbour about the three things that most provoked their thinking. Then open up for discussion. I think the pairing x 3 items is a good way to sift through to the key issues that are in people’s minds.

    1. Thanks – I think “think complex, speak simple” is the most important lesson – and powerpoint allows for an idea to remain fuzzy… not 100% clear. A 6 page essay requires that the presenter does the work to get crystal clear with what they are transmitting and what they want. ;-)

  19. […] These problems might seem too deeply ingrained in corporate culture to escape, but it’s possible to find companies that did just that. Fog Creek followed the research and gave every engineer, tester, and PM a private office. Atos completely banned internal email. Amazon rewrote the rules for meetings. […]

  20. […] find ich die no-powerpoint-policy. ideen/konzepte/produktdesigns etc. werden in memos dargelegt die aus kundensicht geschrieben. […]

  21. Ahaa, its fastidious discussion concerning this post here
    at this webpage, I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.

  22. […] described his idea of how meetings should run in a Charlie Rose interview (synopsized by Conor […]

  23. Having read this I believed it was rather informative. I appreciate you finding
    the time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both
    reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  24. you’re in reality a good webmaster. The website
    loading pace is amazing. It seems that you are doing
    any distinctive trick. Moreover, The contents are masterwork.
    you’ve done a excellent job on this subject!

  25. Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written much better!
    Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this information to him.
    Fairly certain he’s going to have a very good read.
    Thank you for sharing!

  26. Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative.
    I am gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue this in
    future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing.
    Cheers!

    1. Great to hear from you ;-)

  27. Hi superb blog! Does running a blog similar to this take a
    large amount of work? I have virtually no expertise in programming but I was hoping to start my own blog in the near
    future. Anyways, if you have any recommendations or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I understand this is off topic but I just wanted to
    ask. Thank you!

    1. Blogging – tumblr is very easy, wordpress is easy

  28. This is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very accurate information… Thank you for sharinng this one.

    A must read post!

  29. […] week I learned that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expects employees to begin meetings by reading aloud an essay they’ve writte….  No power point slides.  Why?  Because writing at length requires thinking.  […]

  30. […] week I learned that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expects employees to begin meetings by reading aloud an essay they’ve writte….  No power point slides.  Why?  Because writing at length requires thinking.  […]

  31. […] week I learned that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expects employees to begin meetings by reading aloud an essay they’ve writte….  No power point slides.  Why?  Because writing at length requires thinking.  […]

  32. John Champagne · · Reply

    This is a technique that teachers of English Composition use all the time, even though our colleagues might think of it as wasting precious class time. It encourages people to read with care, especially if they know they are going to be called upon to respond. It has the potential to create more exchange between people (rather than one way transmission of information). It provides an immediate, shared context for the conversation that will then take place. And, in a classroom situation, it allows me to model behavior for students — if they look up from the document and see that I am still reading and they have finished, hopefully they conclude that they have probably not read it carefully enough — and it demonstrates to the student that I believe their writing — because it is usually an example of their writing we are reading — is worth close attention. As for how this translates to a business meeting, I can’t really say.

  33. WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for fort walton beach airport

  34. […] on the grounds that it’s ‘easy for the presenter, but harder for the audience’. Here’s what they are doing […]

  35. […] The post: Amazon Staff Meetings: “No Powerpoint” […]

  36. […] ممنوعیت پاور پوینت در میتینگ‌های آمازون شرکت آمازون که حدس زده می شه یکی از موفق‌ترین شرکت‌های دهه آینده باشه، در یک بخشنامه به همه کارمندها گفته که همه میتینگ‌های کارمندها باید با سی دقیقه سکوت و مطالعه دقیق چند صفحه یادداشت مربوط به میتینگ شروع بشه. به گفته این متن «شیوه شروع قدیمی میتینگ‌های شرکتی، پرزنتیشن‌ها و اسلایدها بودن. یک نفر جلو می ایستاد و اسلایدها رو نشون می داد. به نظر ما این اطلاعات بسیار کمی رو منتقل می کنه و فقط بولت لیست نشون می ده. اینکار برای ارائه دهنده راحته ولی کار مخاطبین رو بسیار سخت می کنه. به جاش همه میتینگ ها ما با یک یادداشت روایی ۶ صفحه‌ای شروع می شه. وقتی قرار باشه واقعا حرف‌هاتون رو با جمله‌های کامل بنویسین، مجبورین بیشتر فکر کنین و حرفی واقعا مفید برای زدن داشته باشین.» […]

  37. […] Amazon Staff Meetings: “No Powerpoint” […]

  38. […] Vaqué me pasó también un artículo que explica como en Amazon las reuniones internas se hacen sin powerpoint. La gente elabora una pequeña memoria antes de la reunión para que los asistentes se la lean por […]

  39. […] Amazon Staff Meetings: “No Powerpoint”  […]

  40. Kathy Smith · · Reply

    This works well actually. It is not for employees to read information FROM Jeff Bezos, but rather a document explaining a process, a pitch for a new process, or the results of a pilot. Usually read by your Manager or colleagues. It usually takes about 10 minutes of reading and then the presenter goes page by page and answers questions. Therefore, everyone’s concerns or ideas get addressed and we do’t run out of time or have lengthy meetings.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. It struck me as a good tool for changing a culture from one of “unprepared superficial presentations” to one of “prepared, structured and deep” presentations.

      1. Late getting to the No Powerpoint article–good to know. People have different listening habits, so those upfront essays should speak to all four habits to increase the likelihood that the listeners will tune in.

  41. Scott Brower · · Reply

    This feels a bit like a band aid. Instead of teaching people how to run a meeting and present ideas, you force people to read and absorb a document that may in fact be as poorly written as it would have been presented. The purpose of meetings is to engage the audience one way or the other and not to force an individual exercise like reading that doesn’t require a gathering. Not all mediums are appropriate in all settings so teach people how to engage correctly in the appropriate medium for the setting (i.e. verbal/visual for a meeting and writing skills for other times).

    1. True, this is perhaps not an ideal “end goal” in itself -> but might be a useful technique to increase the depth of preparation and thoroughness of analysis for certain meetings.

  42. Sorry if you haven’t read the papers prior to the start of the meeting with out a good excuse I would consider giving you a verbal warning and if repeated a written one and putting you on poor performance procedure.

    1. I guess the fully enlightened company could move towards an expectation that all will come prepared to the meeting… but in the interim, perhaps 30 minutes of silent reading at the beginning of meetings allows a company culture to make the change…

  43. Dave · · Reply

    So, as an Amazon.com employee, why isn’t this implemented at our “all hands” meetings? They’re all power points and were rushed through any questions we might have. I would Glady read a 6 page synopsis on how my new building has been doing rather than harsh Criticism on the back breaking work we do everyday. Maybe a well thought out article on our progress in a decent format would work well for put moral

    1. Good question!

      I remember a book from years ago “Never confuse a memo with reality”. It spoke about the massive gap between what a CEO says is “the way it works around here” and the reality of “how it really works around here”

      Maybe even Amazon needs the book “Never confuse a memo with Reality”.

    2. Joe Warner · · Reply

      Why not take the opportunity to provide the feedback directly? If you are an employee then you know there are several ways to provide your feedback and people actually listen. Just sayin…get some guts!

  44. Yes, Jeff Bozos is again terribly wasting the time of his audience. Most likely he loves it when everybody must read what he writes. In front of him. What about sending out the notes before the meeting, so they can actually discuss it there?
    It’s his money so we don’t have to care.

    1. All rules are wrong some of the time… but a 6 page memo would force many “wing-it” presenters to have to more deeply engage with their material, message and why it matters before stepping up and delivering to the audience.

      In my case, if I write a blog post – I then am better able to speak about an idea – because the blog post has forced me to clarify what I mean on cruel, hard, thankless paper ;-)

  45. timmy · · Reply

    Focussing on the gathering and the communication of ideas, is a wonderful change of pace from “cover your ass, and let out a sigh of relief that you are done”. I find this article extremely exciting. It comes off as “hello everyone, have I got something to show you”!

    1. Thanks. Very true. It takes time to deliver a great presentation. Maybe a 6 page memo is the first step to then creating a compelling 20 minute presentation. It is not until you have written clearly for 6 pages that you really understand the important aspects of what you want to share with the audience.

  46. Edward Tufte has been arguing for this approach for years now. I’ve used them in classes with students as young as 4th grade for foreign language, tech, and math. Much deeper engagement with material, rather than responses from powerpoint that range from boredom to “cherry picking”.

    1. I like “much deeper engagement”. A full 6 page essay ensures that the speaker does the work of fully exploring the material and coming to conclusions, rather than forcing the audience to do the work of trying to figure out what is being said by several disconnected powerpoint slides ;-)

  47. […] Amazon Staff Meetings: “No Powerpoint” | Moving People to Action Think Complex, Speak Simple – http://t.co/saUTukGrum […]

  48. […] For the rest of this article click HERE! […]

  49. NullOp · · Reply

    All meeting should be held outside regardless of the weather. Smokers are NOT allowed to do so. Everyone gets one sheet of paper for notes and can only use one side. NO cellphones, computers or electronics, except pacemakers, are to be brought to meetings. Rephrasing what was just said gets you negative points and you DON’T want negative points. These rules will cut down on the BS seen at every meeting I have ever attended in my entire life!

  50. Interruptions only happen if you allow them to happen. If you are in control of the meeting you will tell them wait with their questions for the Q&A break. I like to use slides with drawings. Images do speak a thousand words. You can put them in a memo but when you tell a story around the pictures it sticks a lot better

    1. No one says you can’t put pictures in the memo….

    2. RichW · · Reply

      Agreed. The presenter needs to maintain control of a meeting.

      I’m skeptical about a “30 minute reading room” prep time to go over a 6 page memo. Writing may bring clarity, yet speaking brings depth. That powerpoint, pictures or not, provide the guidelines for the discussion and the POINTS that need to be made. It is not the discussion itself.

      A presentation, speech, etc, is two ways: the presenter and the audience. In a meeting, the presenter is trying to get ideas & points across, and the audience is trying to absorb them. it’s always good to encourage people to take notes and ask questions.

      If you have people who are not absorbing them through taking notes or actively asking questions, having them read a 6 page memo before hand won’t change that.

      The problem here is that people come to the meetings completely blind and unprepared. They have no idea what the meeting is about prior to walking in to the room. This 30 minute reading time forces them to get up to speed.. at the expense of the people who DO come prepared.

  51. […] Amazon Staff Meetings: “No Powerpoint” […]

  52. […] wisdom says humans are creatures of images. However, really understanding a subject requires words (and complete sentences). Amazon’s Jeff Bezos gets […]

  53. […] whole reflection was triggered, once more, when earlier on today I bumped into this rather intriguing and refreshing article by Conor Neill under the heading “Amazon Staff Meetings: “No PowerPoint”” […]

What do you think? Let me know you were here ;-)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

My Journey 2 Scratch

"The secrets to life are hidden behind the word cliché" - Shay Butler

PLATAFORMA CONTRA LAPRIVATITZACIÓ I URBANITZACIÓ D'UNA PART DEL PARC

antryump

"A Blog worth reading "

Karen Blumberg

Technology is special.

The Night Owl Writer

Wide Awake in Midnight City

sivaprakashsidhu

Living positively and Inspiring guy who motivates people all the time!!

MARKETING INSTITUCIONAL Y COMUNICACIÓN PUBLICA

ESTRATEGIA Y LIDERAZGO PARA MEJORAR LA GESTIÓN PÚBLICA Y SUS PROFESIONALES

saastr

thoughts on web services people pay for

Rich Sense ~ Christian Leadership & Daily Life~

Growing deeper in Christ, living a richer life

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,335 other followers

%d bloggers like this: