CEOs are banning PowerPoint presentations from meetings to improve company culture:

From: Bezos, Jeff

Sent: Wednesday, June 09, 20014 6:02PM


Subject: Re: No powerpoint presentations from now on at steam
A little more to help with the question “why.”
Well structured, narrative text is what we’re after rather than just text. If someone builds a list of bullet points in word, that would be just as bad as powerpoint.
The reason writing a good 4 page memo is harder than “writing” a 20 page powerpoint is because the narrative structure of a good memo forces better thought and better understanding of what’s more important than what, and how things are related.
Powerpoint-styel presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of relative importance, and ignore the interconnectedness of ideas.

— Jeff Bezos, CEO at Amazon

During his first two months as Diageo’s North American chief marketing and innovation officer, James Thompson counted every single presentation slide he was exposed to in meetings. The final tally was 12,000, which to him was way too many.
”It stops conversation. It makes people feel secure they’ve communicated what they wanted to. But, in fact, it doesn’t move anything on,” he said. So he has instituted a PowerPoint ban in some meetings. “Just talk to me, please” is his plea. His goal is to ensure his marketing team is “not totally buttoned-up all the time,” he said. “We just want people to be at their best, and that is usually when they are able to think and respond and build rather than sell.”
— James Thompson, North American CMO at Diageo

Bad presentations are bad for company culture. And boring the audience is just one aspect of this. People forget the other ones:

  • People waste incredible amounts of time editing footnotes in slides, time that could have been spent much better
  • Presentations are used to keep subordinates busy and under pressure by requesting zillions of updates to the slide deck by 9AM
  • Company management is now mainly suggested slide edits ("cut it to 5 slides') in emails that go up and down the corporate hierarchy

Presentation documents have become the language that corporate management uses to agree on ideas, and it is a pretty inefficient one. It is time for a change. I don't think completely banning visuals in meetings will solve the issue. A better alternative is to ask employees to use a super simple presentation tool to back up their pitch to colleagues and I am working on that.

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