Power-Up Newsletter 06

It’s Tuesday and time to discover how to make your presentations pop

We look into the unconventional way Amazon tackles presentations by reviewing their 2023 Annual Shareholder Meeting.

Get ready for your world of corporate communications to be rocked 🤯

In this edition:

  • 💻 Presentation Breakdown: Amazon 2023 Annual Shareholder Meeting
  • 🎓 Learn: Set up your PowerPoint workspace like a pro
  • 💡 Idea: Active Patience

💻 Presentation Breakdown: Amazon 2023 Annual Shareholder Meeting

This week we analyse the Annual Shareholder Meeting and presentation from e-commerce and tech giant Amazon.

Held as a virtual meeting on May 24, 2023, the Annual Shareholder Meeting consisted of the following sections (plus timestamps):

  • Introduction and formal proceedings: by David Zapolsky SVP, Secretary & General Counsel (from 00:00:00 to 00:47:05)
  • 2022 Financial Results presentation: by Brian Olsavsky SVP, CFO (from 00:49:10 to 00:56:18)
  • Q&A: by Andy Jassy, President & CEO (from 00:56:18 to 01:15:51)

Not sure if you caught that ☝️… the presentation was all of 7min long and had a total of 8 slides.

Amazon is notorious for its ​anti-PowerPoint culture​, but this caught me a little off guard than I expected 😅 There I was getting my popcorn ready and settling in for the show, but it was a very very short show…

Still… what can we learn from this presentation?

Nice use of colour, icons and colour-coordinated labels

Swipe: What worked

  • Subtitles are key: The formal proceedings were jam-packed with meaty proposals from shareholders. There were a few different speakers raising big topics from Climate Change to Diversity and Compensation to Amazon’s political and government involvement. Subtitles made it easier to follow along and avoided instances of mishearing information. Sharing a speaker script beforehand or utilising MS teams generated captions can help apply this to your meetings
  • Simple and focused slides: Only 8 slides were used and they got straight to the point. The slides were used as a visual aid and not a crutch. So much more was spoken to by CFO Brian Olsavsky and he did not rely on the slides as the only medium to share the narrative
  • Short video between sections: The Video interlude between the formal proceedings and the financial results presentation did help as a reset. If you are running a weighty meeting like this, an appropriately placed video can act as a breath of fresh air
  • Here are a couple of slides for inspiration:
Very clearly annotated performance. The circles draw attention to the key call-outs
In both this slide and the one above, colour was used consistently with the current year being solid while other years were transparent. Also, check out the gridlines which show that the company is on track to double its income!

🙅 Dodge: What to avoid

  • Going 90% of the way: I get it, Amazon doesn’t like PowerPoint. But the slides were so close to actually being great. In some cases, a little design work would’ve tightened up the slide. Here are some examples:
Almost a tiled/bento layout if only the bottom right image was cropped
All the dark gridlines made this slide hard to read. If they just swapped the horizontal axis and gridline colours around it would’ve been so much easier to read
At first glance, the background pattern interferes with the slices of the chart. Also, no comment on the colour choices 😅

A very formal meeting which is a whole lot different from what we saw ​last week at Tesla​ 😂

Traditionally, Amazon relies on written ​6-page memos​ to convey narratives and ideas. I’m a PowerPoint guy so this definitely challenged my whole idea of corporate communications and sent me down a rabbit hole to understand the culture at Amazon (I even called up a mate that works there to get an insider’s perspective).

One thing is clear, Amazonians really know how to get to the point!

I’ve been studying presentations by some of the largest companies and best speakers to find secrets that we can apply to our daily presentations at work.

Do you have a favourite speaker you’d like to see featured? Reply to this mail and I’ll add them to the list

🎓 Learn: Set up your PowerPoint workspace like a pro

One of the quickest ways to generate an immediate increase in your PowerPoint efficiency is to set up your workspace.

I have 2 changes that I apply whenever working on a new machine that I can’t live without. Let me show you how you can apply these to your set-up as well:

Step 1: Show the Ruler

Not only does this help with alignment, but also if I apply gridlines or guides to the slide, the ruler is essential for me to see where exactly the slide is split and allows me to build symmetry and balance into the design

  • Click the View tab on the ribbon
  • Select the Ruler checkbox
  • Feel free to also experiment with Gridlines and Guides in your workflow
Enabling the ruler is a quick click away

Step 2: Customise the Quick Access Toolbar

The biggest efficiency gains for me come from the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). I set the QAT with all the common functions that I use when building slides such as Alignment, Distribution and Grouping functions.

  • At the top toolbar, click on the three dots
  • Select More Commands at the bottom of the menu
  • Select All Commands from the Choose Commands from section
  • Select the commands that you use often
Customise the Quick Access Toolbar to save you time and clicks on your most commonly used functions

My QAT includes:

  • All the alignment functions (Left, Right, Top, Bottom, Middle and Centre)
  • Distribute functions (Horizontal and Vertical)
  • Grouping functions (Group and Ungroup)
  • Arrangement Functions (Send to Back and Bring to Front)

💡 Pro-Tip: Windows users have an added feature that allows you to move the QAT to below the ribbon. I highly recommend doing that as it brings your QAT even closer to the workspace.

Happy creating!

Read the original post ​​here on the blog​​

💡 Idea: Active Patience

Each day acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes as well

– Seneca

A more contemporary version: “I’m on a practice field running Two-A-Days so I don’t drop the ball when it’s threw my way” – JAY-Z, Off That

In the latest newsletter by ​Farnam Street​, Shane Parrish challenges the classic idea of patience i.e. sitting back and hoping the universe will eventually reward us.

He writes, “The most effective form of patience is active patience.

Active patience implies taking significant steps today to set yourself up for future success. It’s about strategically preparing for what lies ahead—saving more than you spend and investing wisely, developing the necessary skills for future job prospects, choosing kindness over cleverness, and so on”

Each day you play an active role by taking intentional steps towards your future self.

But it doesn’t have to only mean work. It could also mean rest.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great week!

That’s all for Edition #06⚡️

✌️ + ppt


Say hi on Twitter or LinkedIn

Did you enjoy this edition?

Join 200+ ambitious professionals reading my newsletter. Subscribe and get practical tips every Tuesday to level up how you share ideas at work💡





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *