Meeting Collaboration: Going Beyond “Death by Slides”

Are you tired of meetings that start with an endless slide deck? There is a simple solution: Get rid of the slide deck, and enable real meeting collaboration instead. Collaboration means to LABOR together — team members don’t just communicate, they actually work together, jointly build or solve something. To fully enable this, a company’s culture needs to get out of its presentation deck reliance and change how they approach meetings.

The Amazon way

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, introduced a really disruptive meeting approach for his “S-team” of senior executives. Instead of having the typical presentation delivered at the beginning of a meeting, participants start with reading a 6-page memo. Quietly, for as long as 30 minutes. They make notes in the margins while the authors of the memo wait for Bezos and the other executives to finish reading.

Obvious benefits

Bezos’ approach may seem unusual at first glance, but its benefits are obvious: everyone gets the same, condensed set of information – and time to consume it. Everyone is fully concentrated on the actual meeting topic, and not distracted by email, phone or chat. And the requirement of a multi-page memo ensures that the meeting topic itself is well-prepared and well-communicated in advance.

Getting things done

There is another essential benefit of this approach: The remaining meeting time can then be used for real collaboration, like ideation or collaborative problem solving. Simply put, the meeting is about getting things done. It is a successful way to free up time for more effective meetings. And we see meeting cultures and technologies evolving to achieve this same goal.

Communication goes social

When looking at communication vs. collaboration in large enterprises, we observe that an increasing part of the communication is shifting to social software like Jive and Chatter. This shift has the same positive side effect as Bezos’ approach: the valuable meeting time can then be used for higher levels of teamwork: the 4th dimension of collaboration, as discussed in previous articles of this blog.


Meeting time is relatively expensive, and it is in the best interest of all stakeholders to make it most valuable as well. Look at your company’s culture with regards to communication and collaboration – where is room for improvement? What can be done differently, and substituted or supported by technology? And finally: Who could drive this change?


Work better together with SMART kapp and SMART kapp iQ today! 

Tobias Windbrake
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About Tobias Windbrake

Tobias works as Collaboration Consultant in the EMEA & APAC region. He joined SMART seven years ago, initially managing SMART’s training business. Based on this experience, he strongly believes in ease-of-use and simplicity as an essential factor for technology adoption - the core requirement for ROI. Tobias holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science, and was running his own software company before joining SMART.


3 thoughts on “Meeting Collaboration: Going Beyond “Death by Slides”

  1. I promoted the flipped classroom before it was “cool”. If we educated and professionally developed our teachers the way we expect them to educate our children we would have better classroom environments. But alas, we give them shot gun PD, tell them to take poorly designed online courses or just read an article or two and expect great things from our teachers. If we could really flip the Professional Development classroom and have our teacher engage prior to walking into a training session then we could get higher level collaboration and results in the meetings. This would take significant leadership from education leaders as well as the union representation to get teachers to get materials in advance, actually prepare ahead of time and come prepared to learn at a PD session. In the right environment with the right leadership it could be extremely effective.

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