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The Minto Pyramid and Business Communication1

Your Goal: Lead Your Audience based on Logic

The Minto Pyramid Structure is an excellent way of communicating about a
business problem. The Pyramid Structure groups all parent ideas and sub-ideas
into groups based on specific logical relationships. It is important to note that
the Minto structure is applicable to nearly all forms of communication (e.g.
presenting, writing, webinars, etc.). When you use the Pyramid Structure to
communicate, you should use the following components.
• Subject: this as the “problem” being addressed. It is useful to think of it as the
difference between an optimal scenario and the current situation.
• Key Lines: These are statements that govern a structural cluster in the pyramid
(e.g. section, paragraph, summary).
• Sections and Paragraphs: The presentation of large ideas that logically support
or discuss components of the problem.
• Introduction: This is a section or paragraph that previews what will be
presented and includes any contextual information that is needed to prepare
the audience for understanding the idea. Only indisputable information should
be presented in an introduction. The introduction should go as follows: (1)
introduce the situation and context (2)describe the problem (3) raise questions
that show the scope of what you’re going to discuss (4) preview the key ideas
that are coming up.
• Argument Sentences: These are specific data points that support the key lines
of sections and paragraphs and are presented in a sequence that conveys truth
to the audience.
• Summary: This is a tool that the audience can use to check for the
completeness of your communication and judge the conclusion.

1 Note:  Many  of  these  ideas  come  from  Barbara  Minto’s  excellent  business  communica@ons  book  The  Pyramid  
Principle:  Logic  in  Wri5ng  and  Thinking

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A Visual Representation of the Pyramid

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The Step by Step Guide to Outlining with the Pyramid
Step 1: Determine the tone and style of your communication by considering your
goal and your relationship with the audience. It might be helpful to do a quick
analysis of your audience’s beliefs and existing knowledge base as it pertains to
the situation)
Step 2: Identify the gap between the current scenario and what is optimal. This is
the “problem” you’re going to address with your communication. It might help to
visualize or identify (e.g. with statistics) the difference between what is
happening and what you want.
Step 3: Identify where the problem lies and why it exists.
Step 4: Third, identify possible solutions or the solution you have. Remember: a
solution can predictably allow for a desirable result.
Step 5: Decide on the logical approach you’re going to take. You basically have
two options: (1) use a logically deductive structure by defining the solution in
section 1, demonstrating its validity in section 2 (and possibly section 3 etc.), and
then concluding the piece. (2) use a logically inductive piece by investigating
cases in sections 1, 2 and more if needed, and identifying some “rule” that you
feel can be extracted from these cases. Option 2 is usually stronger if the cases
are familiar to your audience.
Step 6: Structure your communication, outline your introduction, write your key
lines for each component of your outline, and then support them with argument
sentences. clusters, and summary and then write you key lines for each part of
your communication.
Step 7: Build out your excellently-organized piece of communication easily!

©  Meg  Media  Incorporated.  All  rights  reserved.