The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto

2080 Words Jan 22nd, 2013 9 Pages
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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However, he will rarely use the same interpretation on your grouping as you do. Indeed, people will not infrequently find that they cannot see any relationship at all. Even if they do think exactly as you do, not stating your logic upfront makes the task of listening more difficult. The pyramid structure almost magically forces you to present information only as the reader needs it.

The story line
Any idea below the main point will automatically have both a vertical and a horizontal relationship to the other ideas in the document. The vertical relationship serves to capture the readers attention as he is seeking the answer to his logical question “Why?” or “How?”. Any point you make must raise a question in the reader’s mind, which you must answer horizontally on the line below. The points in the line below must not only answer the question above, but also answer it logically in an inductive or deductive grouping. In the introduction you follow the classic narrative pattern of story-telling you take the audience by the hand and start with the situation description, then you introduce the

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complication which gives raise to a number of questions and then you lead the audience through you line of thinking to the answer. • Situation - telling the listener in story form what he already knows. • Complication – describes the reason

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