PowerPoint banned at Amazon – Jeff Bezos

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Jeff Bezos doesn’t like PowerPoint or any other slideshow system at Amazon meetings.

That’s what leapt out at us from his 2017 Letter to Amazon shareholders (published in April 2018).

“We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos.”

Those memos are read silently at the start of a meeting before discussion begins.

Memos are narratively structured and six pages long.

No clue about why six pages is considered optimal, not five or seven.

We’re not entirely sure what Mr Bezos means by ‘narratively structured’ but he probably means more like regular prose and few bullet points.  See Wikipedia’s definition of narrative structure.

Time and Collaboration

Bezos then talks about what makes a really good memo.

In short, he recommends time and collaboration.

“The great memos are written and re-written, shared with colleagues who are asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind. “

You can say that about all good writing and other creative tasks.  Allowing time for consideration and revision can improve the result.  Sadly, many managers don’t allow that time and expect first class results on ridiculously short deadlines.

Collaboration

One thing Microsoft Office can do is collaboration.  Gone are the days when you had to email drafts to people then manually merge their remarks into the document.

You don’t need Microsoft’s expensive Sharepoint service.  Just save the document to OneDrive, Dropbox or other compatible cloud store.  Then email a sharing link which allows other people to either view or edit the document, including add comments.

See Starting with Document Collaboration.

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