Entrepreneur and former management consultant Ameet Ranadive suggests
using the Pyramid Principle to better structure your arguments and be more persuasive.
Ranadive covers both the rationale behind the Pyramid Principle, as well as details on how to use the tool, in the following 3 steps.
Step 1: Start with the answer first.
Many people are used to making their arguments by presenting facts and analyses, and then building up to a conclusion at the end. But Ranadive points out that this isn’t an effective approach when you’re dealing with busy executives, who don’t have a lot of time.
Instead, it’s better to start with the answer first, for the following reasons:
- It allows you maximize time with your audience: even if the meeting or discussion is cut short, you will have communicated your most important point.
- Many executives think in a “top-down" manner about the “big picture” – beginning with your answer fits with their mental model.
- You sound more assertive and confident, and are therefore more persuasive.
Step 2: Group and summarize your supporting arguments.
Your audience is naturally going to begin doing this in their heads as they listen to or read your argument. You can make this process easier for them, and also ensure that your key points are communicated without getting buried in unnecessary details.
Step 3: Logically order your supporting ideas.
You can use a few different categories here:
- Time order — if there’s a sequence of events or steps that form a cause-and-effect relationship, you should present the ideas in chronological order.
- Structure order — break a singular thought into its parts to make sure that you have covered all of the main supporting ideas.
- Degree order — rank supporting ideas in order of importance, from most to least important.
Ranadive suggests using the below chart to help visualize your structured argument.