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Jeff Bezos

Two Pizzas Hold the PowerPoint: The Jeff Bezos Meeting Strategy

What the meetings industry can learn from the Amazon founder and CEO

This summer Jeff Bezos bought organic food chain Whole Foods, adding the grocer to his $80 billion empire. Bezos appears to have unlimited bandwidth to manage his various businesses, ranging from online retailing (Amazon, Zappos) to newspapers (The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News) to space exploration (Blue Origin), so how does he handle meetings on such a diverse portfolio? It appears from reports in business publications from Inc. to Business Insider that he has three main meeting strategies, all of which can easily be copied.

1.    The Two-Pizza Rule

If you have more meeting participants than two pizzas can feed, the group is too large to be productive. Too many people will invite too many comments, lead the topic in too many directions, and increase the meeting length. The two-pizza rule could be a theoretical metric for meeting size, but if Bezos meetings do routinely feature pizzas then Bonus! Who doesn’t want to eat pizza at meetings?

2.    No PowerPoints

In upper management meetings, rather than bullet-pointed PowerPoints, Bezos prefers meeting presentations to take the form of a narrative memo of up to six pages. Although the memo can be taken from the meeting and used as a blueprint for a project, this strategy is just as much for the meeting presenter as for the meeting participants. A written memo comprising an orderly description of a need, a solution, an implementation strategy, and expected outcomes forces the writer to think clearly about the project in a way that a couple of bullet points do not.

3.    Silent Start

Sure, it would be great if everyone could show up for a meeting well prepared but the reality is that many people are too busy. Spending the beginning of each meeting reading the materials puts all the participants literally on the same page, and eliminates questions that are answered in the memo. The silent start also allows meeting participants to really think about the topic before having to comment on it, a period of reflection that often leads to more incisive comments.  Another advantage: It gives participants the chance to eat pizza without talking with their mouths full.



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