Nathan Baugh 🗺️

Nathan Baugh 🗺️

05-08-2022

14:10

Jeff Bezos said: “There is no way to write a six-page narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.” Here’s the writing framework Bezos uses (that you can too):

Bezos made Amazon into a writing culture by banning powerpoint and forcing everyone to write 6-page memos for meetings. He called them “narratives.” Amazon uses a tailored process and specific writing guidelines to make this happen.

Each memo is structured around the same 6 components: • Intro • Goals • Tenets • Current state • Lessons learned • Strategy Meeting attendees get 20 min to read the doc. Then they spend the rest of the meeting tearing apart the ideas it presents.

After the meeting, the memo owner makes edits and sends out a final version to all involved parties. From everything I’ve read, it’s a heck of a task and really is required for all meetings. To keep it consistent, Amazon uses 7 rules for writing its memos:

Use shorter than 30 words per sentence Constraints drive clear thinking. And the best constraints force you to use less words, not more (sorry, school). If you can explain something in simple terms, you likely understand it well.

Replace adjectives with data “Customers love Prime.” “Customers with Prime spend on average 3x more than those without and we retain 90% of them year over year.” Specificity leads to clear results and quick decision making.

Pass the “so what” test The reader should immediately know what action you want them to take. Make sure to answer who, what, and when. Otherwise, you’ve wasted your time and the reader’s.

Eliminate weasel words Most weasel words are adverbs. “Nearly “Significantly” These words are imprecise and nobody knows what they mean. Get rid of them. As Stephen King says, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

Use subject-verb-object sentences The goal of writing is to transfer your thoughts to another person with as little lost in translation as possible. It’s a big game of telephone. The simpler your sentences, the more accurately your ideas will be translated.

Avoid clutter words Utilize → use In order to → to Until such time as → until Due to the fact → because Getting rid of clutter focuses your message on the parts that matter.

Avoid jargon and acronyms Companies are littered with internal jargon. But this excludes new employees and anyone external to the company. When wanting to use an acronym, write it out the first time it’s used in any document. Clear > clever

To me, Amazon’s writing focus does three things: • Filters for clear thinkers • Makes knowledge transfer easy • Eliminates unnecessary meetings Just imagine how many pointless meetings you’d eliminate if the owner had to write a six page paper.

Hope you enjoyed that! If so: 1. Follow @nathanbaugh27 for weekly writing on storytelling and creativity in business 2. Join 22k on my free newsletter to level up your storytelling

Tldr (Amazon writing tips) Replace adjectives with data Eliminate weasel words Use <30 words per sentence Pass the “so what” test Avoid jargon & acronyms Use subject-verb-object structure Avoid clutter



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