Shifting from slides to written memos

Prathamesh Krisang

In 2004, Jeff Bezos sent an important email to all the Amazon employees.

He instructed his team to shift from using “slides” to using “6 page written memos” for all Amazon internal meetings.

This is how Jeff explains the reason behind the shift below:

“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 important than what, and how things are related.

Powerpoint-style presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of related importance, and ignore the interconnectedness of ideas.”


And I second this: forcing youself to write a coherent narrative explaining your thoughts helps everyone come on the “same page” – literally and figuratively.


Shawn Callahan writes in one of his articles titled: What Might Amazon’s Six-Page Narrative Structure Look Like?

“Narrative shows a series of events, revealing how one impacts the next. The sort of language you hear in a narrative is ‘But then …’ and ‘Because of that …’ and ‘So now …’.

The narrative becomes a container for what is happening and what might happen.

It can also hold people’s opinions and points of view, so you might have language like ‘It’s my view that …’ and ‘I recommend …’.

Without the narrative, you just get a series of disconnected facts and opinions. Collectively, it won’t make sense.”


Hope this inspires to start writing down your thoughts.

PS: I am stoked to write about developing the “habit of writing” as a founder who wants to scale himself.

Planning to share more as I learn it myself.

For more ideas on how to scale yourself with the habit of writing, productizing your knowledge & building systems, stay tuned.