Narrative Memos Replace PowerPoints at Amazon | Extraordinary Business
Meetings…. UGH! More than not, they feel like a necessary “evil” most especially when you are a part of multiple teams or a part of a large organization. But it’s not the meeting itself that’s the problem, rather it’s more often how it’s run and in what format the information is delivered.
Meetings can be quite productive when there is a loose agenda to guide conversation and everyone agrees to delay in-depth discussions to a later time in order to work through the agenda as quickly as possible. Starting with the most important items first ensures those critical topics are addressed and provides time for conversations to delve into deeper discussions without derailing the agenda all together.
Another way to ensure a meeting is effective is to deliver the content in a narrative-storytelling fashion. That format may seem at first to be counter-productive (after all, who wants to potentially extend a meeting by making the information more descriptive), but Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of Amazon, swears by it!
Bezos banned PowerPoint presentations at his executive meetings and instead replaced it with a “six-page memo that’s narratively structured with real sentences, topic sentences, verbs and nouns.” During his meetings, the executives are handed the memo at the beginning and sit silently for about 30 minutes reading it. Only after everyone is done reading it will they open the meeting for discussion.
Carmine Gallo wrote an article about Bezos’ decision in Inc. Magazine titled “Jeff Bezos Banned PowerPoint in Meetings. His Replacement Is Brilliant.” Gallo shows why narrative-storytelling in business is so much better than the normal approach of bullet points to share ideas.
As a fellow writer and published author, I know the power of storytelling and the importance of crafting a message in a descriptive way that stimulates a person’s emotions and brain. When done right, the message stays with you longer (if not forever) and certainly fast-tracks the processing of that information. The best lesson I ever learned through some of the writing trainings I attended is this: SHOW them, don’t tell them! Which is exactly what Gallo and Bezos are aiming for.
Click here to read Gallo’s article and judge his perspective for yourself.
Kris Cavanaugh Castro is the People Development Coach at Aepiphanni, the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Kris has over 25 years of coaching, training and mentoring leaders to greater success; and she periodically writes about leadership development and facilitates change management conversations.
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