It’s par for the course that when you arrive at a business meeting, you’ll be greeted by yet another PowerPoint presentation, one most likely filled with far too many bullet points.  While technology has proven to be a great asset for productivity and communications, its overuse has become stale and counterproductive.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, stunned leadership teams inside and outside his organization by banning PowerPoint presentations from executive meetings. In lieu of a 40-page PowerPoint deck, Bezos is instead requiring speakers to produce, in advance, concise memos for distribution to team members.  It might seem overwhelming to be presented with simply a memo rather than a series of slides, but experts say that Bezos is on to something.  And it’s not just Bezos.  Sheryl Sandberg has also banned slide presentations at times, as have a lot of other corporations.

What do bullet points really tell you?

According to leading neuroscientists, bullet points do very little for cognitive processing.  We process, think, and communicate more effectively by means of narratives and stories.  When you can relay information in a meaningful manner, you’re much more likely to get your point across. We refer to these as mental magnets™.

The best ideas are driven by passion.

When was the last time you were inspired by a bullet point? Compared to narratives, bullet points do not have the same persuasive power. If you truly want to make the most of your meeting, incorporate a narrative that will result in a more informed discussion. Your data is meaningless without solid interpretation. Let your business meetings inspire by offering information that can be easily understood by everyone present.

Narratives take more thought to prepare than a slide.

A PowerPoint presentation often functions as a veil for an unfinished thought. If you know the full meaning of your data, it should be easy to string it together in a way that will make sense to your attendees. If you struggle to translate your data into a narrative, that’s a red flag suggesting you are not yet ready to deliver your presentation. A narrative, instead of a slide presentation, forces you to form a complete argument rather than list basic facts.

The goal of any meeting is to share information that stimulates action – a decision, an investment, or closing a deal.  No one has ever made a decision simply because you shared 40 pages of bullet points and charts with them.  By using a narrative instead, you go beyond the data and graphics, granting everyone the opportunity to process the information.  The result will be more informed discussions that lead to better results.

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