The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto Essay

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Pages: 9

The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto (The logic of writing)

The pyramid structure
A person that seeks to learn your thinking about a particular subject faces a complex task. George A. Miller describes in his treatise “The magical number seven, plus or minus two” a pattern governing the process of our mind. Whenever we encounter a number of items the mind begins to group them into logical categories so they can be retained. The mind will automatically impose order on everything around it. This tendency of the mind is nicely illustrated by the Greeks who grouped stars into figures instead of pinpoints of lights. As the listener has to take in your story line by line, he must take each of these, digest them, relate them and hold them
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• Answer – is the goal of your engagement, e.g. your finding, conclusion or recommendation. The answer is your first key line point. In the main part you start with the answer at the top of the pyramid and answer all logical questions in the lines below. The technique forces you to provide only the information relevant to the question. When you are at the bottom of the pyramid you best pause and make summary before going on. Then you get back to the original question and you move horizontally from the first key line which you just summarised to the next key line. Some useful guidance • Sort out the introductory information first so that you leave yourself free to concentrate solely on ideas at the lower levels. Always put historical chronology in the introduction. You cannot tell the listener what happened in the main part. • Limit the introduction to what the listener will agree is true. • Key lines must be expressed as ideas or statement and not as single words. • Even if not always all elements of Situation-Complication-Solution need to be included in the introduction, the author should be aware of them. • Don’t give findings that do not lead to conclusions. • Don’t state conclusions that are not based on findings. Theoretically, having a proper introduction and a pyramid structure of the body you don’t need a concluding statement. Rather than repeating your key line, you may try to produce an emotion in the listener, when stating your conclusion. You may