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Pyramid Principle

Season 42. Episode 3

Let’s say someone at work encouraged you to start explaining things using the “Pyramid Principle.” That person is giving you good advice. He or she is saying, “You should always ‘cascade’ your ideas from general to specific. Or another way to put it is to start with your main point or idea. The next thought (writing or speaking) would be your sub point(s) and the final thought would be your data point.

Imagine you had a PowerPoint slide to show Jeff Bezos describing which city you think Amazon should choose to build its newest facility.The title of the slide would be your main point and it would say: WE’VE SELECTED NASHVILLE. There would be three sub-points or bullets. One might say:

  • Educated workforce

Another might say:

  • Superior incentives

A third one could say:

  • 21st Century infrastructure

Under each sub-point would be a data point or two…or even three. You might have, under the first bullet:

  1. Excellent public and private education including Vanderbilt, Belmont and Tennessee State

You might see, under the second bullet:

  1. City and State government has earmarked $0,0000,000,000 dollars towards construction and proposed tax incentives totally $000,000,000 dollars.

You might see under 21st Century infrastructure:

‎ 1. Public, Green and Portal

So that’s how the Pyramid Principle dictates the bulleted PowerPoint slide. And then you’d say, “Jeff, on this slide you’ll see our final recommendation to select Nashville, Tennessee. There are several reasons we arrived at Nashville. One, it’s educated workforce. Two, the incentives they’ve brought to the table to entice us there. Three, an extremely well planned infrastructure. Let’s start with the workforce.”

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