Death by PowerPoint: Story of the HR Lead and Marketing Manager and Lessons from Amazon

The meeting room was packed with business leadership, all waiting for the quarterly review of attrition of a growing IT services and consulting company. A detailed PowerPoint presentation was given by Henry, the HR Lead as per the norm.

The presentation started off with a lot of data and statistics about attrition. Henry talked about the number of employees who had left the company in the past quarter, the reasons they had left, and the cost of turnover.

After about 20 minutes, Henry finally got to the part where he talked about the HR function’s recommendations to reduce attrition. He proposed implementing a new learning and development program, offering more flexible work arrangements, and increasing compensation and benefits.

But by the time Henry finished his presentation, most of the leaders were either asleep or checking their phones. They had lost interest in the presentation long ago.

Henry was disappointed that all the efforts put in by him and his team over the week had gone in vain with a lack of any response and enthusiasm to the detailed presentation. In fact, they had put all other activities like employee engagement and connects on the back burner in preparing for the presentation.

In a similar instance, “I’m so tired of making PowerPoint presentations,” sighed Sarah, a marketing manager at a large tech company. “It takes me so much time to create the slides, and then I spend half the meeting just reading them off to the audience. I feel like I’m not really connecting with anyone.”

Sarah’s colleague, John, agreed. “I know what you mean,” he said. “I spend more time preparing my presentations than I do actually working on the projects I’m presenting about. It’s so inefficient.”

Henry, Sarah, and John were not alone in their frustration. Many people in the workplace feel like they spend too much time creating PowerPoint presentations which is considered the norm. This is especially true for meetings and reviews, where the focus should be on discussion and collaboration, not on delivering a polished presentation.

Lessons from Amazon

Amazon, one of the most successful and innovative companies in the world has done away with PowerPoint presentations long back. It was found that PowerPoint presentations were often used to “death by PowerPoint” meetings, where people would sit through long and boring presentations that were not very informative. The PowerPoint presentations encouraged people to focus on the slides rather than the content of the presentation.

Instead of PowerPoint, Amazon encouraged employees to use a six-page memo format for presentations. The 6-page memo is a written document that outlines the purpose of the meeting, the key issues to be discussed, and the proposed solutions. It is written in a clear and concise style, and it is intended to be read and digested by all meeting attendees before the meeting begins. Each meeting starts with the participants silently reading the six-page memo that summarizes the topic. The group then discusses the topic and makes decisions.

This way everyone has the same information before the meeting begins, which can help to ensure that the discussion is more productive. Also, it forces the author of the memo to think carefully about the issue at hand, which can lead to better decision-making. Third, it can help to save time in the meeting, as there is no need to go over the basics of the issue.

Alternatives to PowerPoint presentations

There are many such organizations that are rethinking the use of PowerPoint or any other presentation software. There are a number of alternatives to PowerPoint presentations that save time and make meetings and reviews more effective. Here are a few examples:

  • Use a whiteboard or flipchart. This is a simple and effective way to present information. It’s also more interactive than a PowerPoint presentation, as people can participate by adding their own thoughts and ideas.
  • Do a live demo. If you’re presenting something technical, a live demo can be a great way to show people how it works. This can be more engaging than a PowerPoint presentation, and it can also help people to understand the concepts more easily.
  • Use a video or infographic. A well-made video or infographic can be a great way to present information in a visually appealing way. This can be especially effective if you’re trying to explain a complex concept.
  • Have a conversation. Sometimes, the best way to present information is to simply have a conversation with your audience. This can be more informal and engaging than a traditional presentation, and it can also help to build relationships.

The next time you have a meeting or review, consider using an alternative to PowerPoint. You may be surprised at how much time and energy you save.

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