Icon of a pyramid representing the Pyramid Principle for effective communication

The pyramid principle

What is it?

The Pyramid Principle is a communication and presentation technique that helps you structure ideas and messages in a clear and logical way, making it easier for the audience to understand and follow a story or argument.

It was developed by Barbara Minto, a former McKinsey & Company consultant and the key idea behind the Pyramid Principle is to present information in a logical and hierarchical fashion, similar to the shape of a pyramid. Communication is structured with a main point or key message at the top, followed by supporting details arranged in descending order of importance. The main components of the Pyramid Principle are:

  1. The big idea: This is the primary message or conclusion that you want to convey. It should be clear and concise, ideally in one sentence.

  2. Supporting points: Just below the main point, you have a few key supporting points. These are like the building blocks of the argument or story. Each supporting point backs up or contributes to the main message.

  3. Subpoints and details: Below the supporting points, you add subpoints and specific details that further explain and reinforce the supporting points. Think of these as the bricks that make up the blocks in the pyramid.

  4. Evidence and examples: At the base of the pyramid, you provide evidence, examples, data, or anecdotes that support the subpoints and details. This adds depth and credibility to the argument or story.

This framework not only helps organize information, but it also ensures a natural flow from the most important message down to the supporting details. The Pyramid Principle operates synergistically with storytelling frameworks. While it provides the overall organizational structure for your narrative, complementary frameworks like SCQA and the Hero's Journey contribute to shaping the content within that structure. Together, they form a cohesive and compelling story or presentation that is both logically structured and engaging

When to use it

  1. As a foundational tool when preparing any type of presentation, whether it's for business, education, or public speaking.
  2. Incorporate the prompts into brainstorming sessions with your team to generate diverse content ideas and perspectives.

Remember to

  1. Keep your responses to the prompts concise and clear. Avoid unnecessary jargon or complexity that may hinder understanding.
  2. Think creatively when responding to the prompts. They are meant to inspire fresh perspectives and ideas,




Define your main message.

Begin by clearly defining the main message or conclusion you want to convey in your communication or presentation. This is the most critical element, and everything else will revolve around it. Ensure that your main message is concise and can be expressed in a single sentence or phrase.


Identify supporting points

Underneath your main message, identify two to four key supporting points. These supporting points should provide the essential building blocks for your argument or story. They should directly contribute to and reinforce your main message.


Develop subpoints and details

For each supporting point, delve deeper by adding subpoints and specific details. These subpoints should explain and elaborate on the supporting points. Think of them as the bricks that construct the supporting blocks in your pyramid. Be thorough in your explanations and provide examples where necessary to clarify your ideas.


Gather evidence and examples

At the base of your pyramid, collect evidence, examples, data, or anecdotes that support your subpoints and details. This evidence adds depth and credibility to your argument or story. Ensure that your evidence is relevant, reliable, and effectively reinforces your subpoints.


Organize the pyramid

Arrange your main message, supporting points, subpoints, and evidence in a hierarchical structure, just like a pyramid. Your main message should be at the top, followed by the supporting points, subpoints, and evidence in a logical order. This step ensures that your presentation flows naturally, making it easier for your audience to follow.


Practice conciseness and clarity

Review each level of your pyramid to ensure that your responses are concise and clear. Avoid using unnecessary jargon or complex language that may hinder understanding. Aim for simplicity and clarity in your communication.

Guide coming soon