Recently I had a chance to read more on so called “Pyramid Principle”. Thanks to my mentor who wanted to discuss this very topic in my next mentoring session.
When i heard this topic for the first time, to be honest i was thinking of hierarchy in an organization which is often attributed to be of pyramid structure.
When i searched in Google, i got some very good pointers on what exactly this is and that moment itself i thought i should write a quick 100 word blog post on what i understood on this topic for my fellow colleagues.
Ok, coming to the point, the concept “Pyramid Principle” refers to an approach by which you can communicate something to someone, in a more methodical, concise and adoptable (yes, something which others are more happy to adopt) fashion.
Usually these kind of principle (complex as everyone would say.. :)) is employed to higher management who, in general doesn’t have much time with them. To be fair to them, they do process large amount of data and is entrusted to take top decisions under very little time (yes, that’s why they earn more money.. :)).
When you want to communicate something, usually follow the steps as below (advocated by Pyramid Principle):
- Start with the answer (yes, your first slide can be the answer itself which the management has asked from you). This is often against your usual way of communication, as in the past, you give facts and figures first and then come to a particular conclusion. Yes, reverse the approach for you to be heard and accomplish what you would like to communicate. If the person whom you are communicating, has already parsed good amount of information in past on similar topic, just the first slide would be good enough for him/her to take a decision and move on.
- After giving the answer, now its time to group things together and get into a bit more detail with very high quality facts and figures. The best way to get your higher management to listen to you is that, the facts should be grouped and it should not be more than three groups (just a rule which has seen success in past – scientifically proven as you can say). Grouping can be done in many different ways and in general can be classified as:
- Time based – convey according to how it happened
- Rank based – higher to low rank
- Structured – break the main one into three main parts and present it
I think now you know why is it called “Pyramid Principle”. If not, what i understood is, start by giving pointed answer to a question (top of the pyramid) and then drill down as needed with more and more detail. The base of the pyramid would contain more finer details with more figures and facts.
The question is, should you use this for higher management only? The answer is, no. It can be even used when you write a simple mail (reply to a question obviously). This can also be used while answering a question from your higher management or even from your colleagues.
Simple, concise and to the point answer is always appreciated. Its a sign of leaders and i would persuade you to practice it right away.
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