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Jeff Bezos Banned Microsoft PowerPoint Slide Presentations

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Meetings and discussions should always be held on very important issues. However, how many times have we attended meetings that could have been an email? Still remember how we implemented PowerPoint back in the day? People want to have a chat, there’s a human element in conversations and discussions. Worked wonders! it worked wonders for us all and amplified our humanistic connections, relationships, and conversations. Some may contest that PowerPoint should still be used, especially with virtual meetings because even a great speaker needs visual items.

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PPT is a great tool but if you can’t use it well, it cannot serve you well… as do all tools . I learned in a management school that PowerPoint can be a time waster and I’m glad to see Bezos bringing it to light. Jeff Bezos took the leap and banned Microsoft PowerPoint Slide presentations. I’m sure this leads to more impactful discussion vs one-sided presentation. Better than the pizza decision. The next decision should be to ban meetings altogether except for one day a week. I imagine Bill Gates would feel personally attacked by this decision if said briefing documents weren’t typed on Microsoft Word and featured Microsoft Excel tables. But Finally. I think the key is knowing which tool will be most effective for the environment and content. I think I personally respond best when presenting and receiving info with visual cues but the addition of a briefing document is both insightful and smart. Another nail in the coffin for traditional old-school management consulting? Death by PowerPoint soon to be extinct?

I’d call it brilliant, but Sheryl Sandberg implemented it first 10 years ago early on in her Facebook career. She talks about it in her famous book LEAN IN. I think the award for “the smartest management move” should go to her. I’d argue it’s not the “smartest management move he’s ever made.” He (or the company) has made other moves such as hiring and promotion efficiencies that have a more direct impact on the company than this. In fact, there are countless examples of management moves he made more noteworthy (to me) than this. With that aside, banning PowerPoint in itself isn’t that significant. The root of the management decision was saving unproductive time by eliminating the time to create and present the slide deck. A slide deck which was presumably ineffective due to the data within it or the presenters’ ability to, well, present. I know Bezos is data-driven, so I’d like to know whether the time savings of eliminating a PowerPoint presentation was worth the lack of dialog between all meeting attendees. The article states with the hard copy presented (Vice PowerPoint) attendees can elect to skip the meeting. If a ppt was provided, couldn’t they do the same? Often times meetings aren’t held to benefit each attendee individually, but to solicit feedback and collaboration from all to better serve the organization.

This is a bit deceiving. He didn’t ban PowerPoint, which arguably is what his team uses to put together the briefing documents, but he banned physical/virtual presentations using PowerPoint slides. Fact Check: PowerPoint presentations are not banned at Amazon. Every “All Hands” is a slide deck built using PowerPoint. Employee orientation, safety school… all PowerPoint.

Provocative. Although the value and effectiveness of communication are based on the individual, not the hardware or software tool being used. I wonder if this could be further developed to read the briefs before the meeting and just meet for the discussion around the decision? Bezos must be doing something right if Amazon is growing and has continued to grow the rate that it is. He’s not the key, but his ideas and implementation are!

Well, that’s something. I’ve always thought there is so much fluff in PP presentations. Most feel like you’re moving so slowly. I do think PowerPoint has its place. It depends on the skill of the presenter. Of course, this is a rare art. Usually, we come across what looks more of a word document on slides.

So they could use Keynote?

Perhaps someone has issues with PP because it is a Microsoft solution? This sounds like an approach that would work well at Amazon, but not necessarily for every team or culture. Some people gloss over text and like to be told stories. I do love how this approach assumes that people are coming to the meeting without doing their homework though because that is commonly the reality. I’ve always hated powerpoint presentations ever since college—my professors would use it and thought it wasn’t efficient at all. Especially if it’s something I can read when not being in class, what’s the point of actually being there? Not to mention that it takes a hell lot of time to create one, and it’s based on the information that is already “there” and has to be packaged now.

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Using history as a guide is always a good business sense. Team meetings must be more productive. If a leader needs to gain insights into a specific issue at a specific location, other teammates need not sit through the review. Meetings and Zoom Calls have gotten out of hand and are completely inefficient most of the time. To talk (with the background of a PowerPoint) is to convince, to deliver confidence to the audience or customers. The purpose of most of (internal) meetings is not to sell or convince, just to break down the task, take decisions, share information. The problem is not about if the PPT is good or not, is to identify the real purpose of the meeting, choose the only needed attendants, clarify the expectations before, and a lot of preparation to avoid lose the time. As simple and so difficult to get it done in large corporations.

Smart move and probably the end of Slower Point

If people don’t know how to communicate effectively, replacing the format- PowerPoint to Word- will not achieve much. Poorly organized decks will become poorly organized briefings. Like most digital tools, PowerPoint serves a need when used properly and as intended. However, too often companies force the use of it in situations when alternative tools would be better. PPT should enhance the message not be the message. Too many people read PowerPoint slides verbatim. We called them viewgraphs or overheads in the old days (my apologies, I’m not particularly fond of generically using “PowerPoint” as the noun for a presentation tool) and they were supposed to just be highlights. Now they’re the script and boring. Powerpoint presentations are a prop for a poorly thought out pitch or useful update. The problem isn’t in PowerPoint. It’s that we forgot to engage with storytelling.

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Undoubtedly most presentations and meetings are powered by PowerPoint. However, it should have been reserved for some meetings and presentations. What about having ground rules like limiting the number of slides, or simple time limitations? Banning PP altogether screams control issues and an overstep. A 100% PowerPoint presentation isn’t my favorite – might as well do a video of it and provide it as a reference tool. But, a blended presentation that’s incorporated into a full-on, interactive discussion works for me. The things I like to put on the screen behind me are things like reference materials, links, website addresses, phone numbers, and so forth. I think TED Talks when developing new material. I still think PowerPoint is essential for visual illustration aspects during presentation meetings. Providing a briefing is great but a 15-minute presentation Can save time too!

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Did you get the memo?

If your office is not engaged in reading you end up with zero value. Truth is, it is needed sometimes, it depends on who you are having a meeting with. It all depends on the goal. I love the idea, as a way to drive more organic conversation and direction when presenting with customers. Certain they are leveraging other platforms to meet needs. PowerPoint presentations have disconnected leadership from reality in the operations. 90% of the info is sugar-coated to show there is progress being made and unfortunately, that’s what the leaders want to hear.

1. Problem should be part of the agenda so everyone comes prepared. Why do we have to waste precious time in a meeting reading the problem? Actually a good move in some cases but I would add pass out the briefing document 2 days before the meeting then you go straight to Q&A Also, as one company sends it over after the presentation so one can refer back to notes.

2. Really? Wouldn’t it be more effective sending out ppt to attendees before the meeting which would save meeting time and paper (save the tree and reduce waste)? Sorry but I don’t think it’s smart. Overall, I like this idea. This is great for leadership meetings. Training and persuasive presentations need a reboot as well. I wonder how “reverse classroom” would work. Much like the creative brief to an agency this focuses on problem statement, objectives, and desired outcomes. The agenda should be clear as to what would be discussed. This was already a practice in the corporate world. The best move has been the smart people we always worked with. Meetings always had the information on paper or a full deck for weekly business reviews.

3. Just have the damn meeting and don’t let the meeting stray from the original scope. PowerPoint as the name itself suggests is for precise communication (Powerful Points) and not detailed but if the presenter doesn’t understand this then the whole purpose of PowerPoint is lost.

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The idea can be smart or not. It all depends on our perspectives and on whether to possess the power to define it. If we want to be truly innovative, let’s figure out a way to make briefing documents be one page and hit the highlights. I’ve seen way too many resources and way too much time be devoted to developing elaborate “decks” only for executives to pay attention to one bullet point. It was long overdue – moving to a conversational meeting is an art! I am sure there will be plenty of naysayers though… Change isn’t for everyone!

Oh well… paper instead of ppt?

I had a training about the art of meeting just that: start with the purpose and background, what needs to be achieved, and the agenda. This is a simple brief attached to the invite that if everyone comes prepared there is no need for a PowerPoint,. The best part is the end result is the original brief with notes and actions from the meeting that can be quickly shared with all attendees. The meeting was efficient, productive, and transparent. Meetings were very efficient and more engaging.

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PowerPoint is a digital tool. The success of Amazon is precise because of the digital world where it operates, so there’s a contradiction. I think that to maximize the potential of PowerPoint, it’s a good idea to combine both resources, the “old school” and the digital world. In business, we tend to create many “Death by PowerPoint” instances vs simplifying our communication and telling a story. We like to overload with lots of data. This tends to either overwhelm or tune out many audience members. Simple, concise points with storytelling, I believe are more impactful. The use of PowerPoint is only as effective if what you are conveying to your audience is not crowded with numbers and words. I don’t necessarily agree to switch the details to executives summaries in Word. Know your audience and what you are trying to convey. When using any tools for communication, think about:

Am I conveying too much information or aiming at one or two audience members out of the rest.

I don’t think it’s particularly smart, I think it’s heavy-handed. Love how the most cutting edge tech CEO on the planet brings back the old school art of writing detailed summaries. CEOs are there to empower their people, not make arbitrary, one-size-fits-all decisions based on personal opinion. Like any tool, I have seen powerpoints used amazingly effectively as well as very bad. A presentation isn’t a PowerPoint deck any more than a house is a hammer. What Bezos should do is focus on the house instead of the hammer: on what is the essence of effective presentations, and how to train his team on the essence of effective presenting. But no, he just takes away every one of his carpenters’ hammers. I would expect nothing less from a billionaire who thinks it’s a great move is to take away health benefits from thousands of his employees. I made a really smart move as well recently – I don’t buy stuff from companies that mistreat their people.

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I also like the idea of giving a bit of a meeting time for people to review. But what about the environmental impact of having to print hard-copy briefing documents? Not sold on this 100%. Many people retain more when there is a visual. With all due respect to Mr. Bezos, let’s not all be followers on this, please. Mr. Bezos may be very rich but I don’t reckon he’s got this one right. Investors love decks! Investors want you to tell them everything in less than 10 ppt slides! I believe that this is what separates Jeff Bezos from Bill Gates. I reckon ban Word and make everyone use PPT instead … “Death By Word” is a thing. Just because one CEO does something that works at his company doesn’t mean it’s a fit for everyone. Jeff knows himself and the needs of his business. The real advice here is don’t be afraid to rattle the cage of tradition to build your culture and company. Be authentic to who you are and what works for you.

Jeff Bezos has also decided he will not end the world hunger today.

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