• Scott Stiefvater

For your next meeting, try replacing a presentation with an informed conversation.

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

This post is based on an article I published on LinkedIn on July 21. If you are so inspired, please read and then share the original article. It's an important one.

Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, had it right when he famously banned PowerPoint at his company and mandated that meetings start with the handing-out of a six-page memo. The group silently reads the memo and then has an informed conversation about the topic. Most Amazon executives will tell you that, while the policy is not a panacea, the result is a big improvement over the one-way, linear, slide-heavy meetings typically found at most companies. That's because, while the mainstream presentation model might work for a TED talk, it is a horrible fit for business meetings in which an ample pool of knowledge from a diverse set of people helps in both making sound decisions and creating an inclusive culture.

Try the informed-conversation model.

  1. Distribute a six-page (or shorter) memo/brief.

  2. Silently read.

  3. Facilitate a conversation.

This model isn't really about banning slides. It's about removing the barriers to inclusion endemic to presentations. The conversation part sets the stage for an inclusive exchange. The memo part gives the conversation purpose and direction. The model is simple and accessible.

Will others feel silent reading is an awkward waste of time? Maybe, but they'd be wrong. The three to five minutes spent to create a common understanding of the topic yields huge dividends during the conversation. Is writing the memo a time-suck for the conversation facilitator? Writing a thoughtful memo/brief does take time, but that is time often otherwise spent designing slides in preparation for presenting the material.

The only way to decide if this works for you is to give it a try. Be bold. I think you'll find the reward is well worth the risk.


© 2021 by Scott Stiefvater,

(anti) Presentation Coach


Tel: 925-586-3517

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