3 Rules for Better Meetings from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Published: Jun 04, 2018

 Technology       Workplace Issues       
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Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has found a way to master meetings. In his recent annual letter to shareholders, Bezos revealed his strategy for making meetings more productive and, thus, more successful. And with Bezos' three simple rules, you too can become a master of meetings.

1. Two-Pizza Teams

Bezos says Amazon tries to create teams small enough so they can be fed by only two pizzas. He calls this "the two-pizza team rule." Making teams small and nimble, Bezos aims to eliminate the confusion and difficulty of having too many opinions in one room, which can waste time and make a group more divisive.

2. Replace PowerPoint

Bezos has eliminated the presentation tool PowerPoint at Amazon headquarters and replaced it with six-page narratively structed memos. These memos are "not just bullet points," says Bezos. They have "real sentences and topic sentences and verbs and nouns." Bezos also says that the memos can take up to a week to craft, and are often "written and rewritten, shared with colleagues who are asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind. They simply can't be done in a day or two."

3. Begin Meetings with Silence

Bezos starts each meeting by giving team members a half hour to actually read the prepared memos prior to discussing them. Bezos claims that executives, "just like high school kids," will act as though they've read the memos, regardless of whether or not they actually have. "And so, you've got to actually carve out the time for the memo to get read, and that's what the first half hour of the meeting is for. And then everyone has actually read the memo, they're not just pretending to have read the memo. Everybody sits around the table, and we read silently ... and then we discuss it."

Implementing Bezos' three simple rules could not only help increase productivity but also make meetings less dreadful and boring. And, let's face it, nobody truly enjoys PowerPoint anyway.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, which helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.