Open in the App Open in the App Open in the App
Get the key ideas from

The Pyramid Principle

Logic in Writing and Thinking

By Barbara Minto
15-minute read
Audio available
The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking by Barbara Minto

Never has clear, convincing communication been as important as in today’s information-cluttered environment. The Pyramid Principle (1978) explains in detail how written documents and presentations can be logically structured, and the methods described in the book are used by almost every major management consultancy on the planet.

  • Professionals whose work involves preparing documents, presentations or written communications
  • Anyone who wants to be more persuasive in their written communications
  • Anyone who wants to learn about effective tools for problem-solving and structuring presentations

Barbara Minto is a former McKinsey & Co. consultant who now focuses on teaching the Pyramid Principle to some of the world’s largest corporations and government organizations.

As a consultant at McKinsey & Co, Minto realized that while most people could get the language of written documents right, many struggled with the clarity of the actual thinking behind them. She developed the Pyramid Principle to teach the foundations required for clear writing.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

The Pyramid Principle

Logic in Writing and Thinking

By Barbara Minto
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking by Barbara Minto
Synopsis

Never has clear, convincing communication been as important as in today’s information-cluttered environment. The Pyramid Principle (1978) explains in detail how written documents and presentations can be logically structured, and the methods described in the book are used by almost every major management consultancy on the planet.

Key idea 1 of 9

Build your pyramid: group similar ideas together and then summarize each group with one statement.

When constructing a pyramid, follow the bottom-up approach: First, list all the points you want to make, clustering together those that argue toward a similar conclusion. Then summarize each group with a single statement one level above the group. Each summary statement is like the tip of a miniature pyramid.

Repeat the process on the next level, and the next and so on. Eventually, you are left with one summary statement that crystallizes the key message of the entire document. Your pyramid is ready.

Consider this example: from points like “Our customer-base is growing,” “Each customer is buying more” and “We have increased our prices,” you might draw the summary statement, “Our sales are growing.”

You might then group this summary statement with others such as “Our fixed costs are going down” and “Our variable costs are going down,” and summarize this new group with an overall message of “Our profits are improving.”

Grouping and summarizing is simple, but you must adhere to the basic rules:

First of all, any idea expressed in the pyramid must always be a summary of the ideas grouped below it. Never use intellectually blank summary statements such as, “There are three reasons why we should expand to Austria.” This is lazy writing, as the author has not bothered to summarize the three reasons properly for the reader.

Second, ideas in any grouping must be logically similar and share the same level of abstraction. In other words, a group cannot consist of “apple,” “fruits,” and “table,” since an apple and a table are not logically similar, and as a more abstract term, “fruits” belongs on a higher level of the pyramid.

Build your pyramid: group similar ideas together and then summarize each group with one statement.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.