Jeff Bezos Banned PowerPoint in Meetings. His Replacement Is Brilliant
In his 2018 annual letter, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos repeated his rule that PowerPoint is banned in executive meetings. What Bezos replaced it with provides even more valuable insight for entrepreneurs and leaders.
In his letter, and in a recent discussion at the Forum on Leadership at the Bush Center, Bezos revealed that "narrative structure" is more effective than PowerPoint. According to Bezos, new executives are in for a culture shock in their first Amazon meetings. Instead of reading bullet points on a PowerPoint slide, everyone sits silently for about 30 minutes to read a "six-page memo that's narratively structured with real sentences, topic sentences, verbs, and nouns." After everyone's done reading, they discuss the topic. "It's so much better than the typical PowerPoint presentation for so many reasons," Bezos added.
1. Our brains are hardwired for narrative.
Narrative storytelling might not have been as critical for our survival as a species as food, but it comes close.
Anthropologists say when humans gained control of fire, it marked a major milestone in human development. Our ancestors were able to cook food, which was a big plus. But it also had a second benefit. People sat around campfires swapping stories. Stories served as instruction, warning, and inspiration.
2. Stories are persuasive.
Aristotle is the father of persuasion. More than 2,000 years ago he revealed the three elements that all persuasive arguments must have to be effective. He called these elements "appeals." They are: ethos, logos, and pathos. Ethos is character and credibility. Logos is logic--an argument must appeal to reason. But ethos and logos are irrelevant in the absence of pathos--emotion.
3. Bullet points are the least effective way of sharing ideas.
Bullets don't inspire. Stories do.
Simply put, the brain is not built to retain information that's structured as bullet points on a slide. It's well-known among neuroscientists that we recall things much better when we see pictures of the object or topic than when we read text on a slide.
Visuals are much, much more powerful than text alone. That's why, if you choose to use slides, use more pictures than words--and don't use bullet points. Ever.
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