The Minto principle (or what will save the structure of your presentation)

High-quality content sometimes saves a bad presentation, and beautiful visualization rarely succeeds in the absence of well-structured and elaborated ideas. At Launch Deck, we place a strong emphasis on our clients’ well-structured stories in addition to high-quality visuals. Let the numbers speak for themselves; with our assistance, more than 1000 successful projects have been completed, and our clients have raised more than $50M by adhering to a few basic guidelines for combining visual solutions with effective storytelling techniques. In this article, we tell you how to use a simple principle to create dense content for your next deck.

People are able to keep only 5 independent thoughts in their heads at once.

The need for structure

By nature, we find it challenging to perceive a large number of incoherent ideas. Nevertheless, it does not matter whether you are a director or an analyst — anyone strives to find some kind of connection in the information they receive. Otherwise, when one loses the chain of thought of the presentation, they quickly lose interest (spoiler: loss of interest is the worst thing that can happen to the audience during your speech).

Barbara Minto faced the same problem when she studied the work letters of her colleagues. She has developed a principle that will effectively convey any amount of information to your audience. Today it is used by speakers and content creators all over the world.

Using the principle

The idea behind this principle is to create a «pyramid» of content. First, you should briefly but concisely state the whole point — the context, the problem, and the solution that you propose. Then share about those elements in more detail. It is necessary to add details until all the potential questions of the audience are answered.

This principle is easy to use:

The Minto principle (or what will save the structure of your presentation) 2

Applying the pyramid’s top-down structure to your presentation ensures that any question being posed receives a direct response.

1) Start off with the top-level overview and the answer your audience is looking for. In startup world that would be:

  • The Problem
  • The perfect Opportunity Gap to solve it
  • BTW our team solved it — Solution

Making your recommendation(s) right away is the Pyramid Principle’s most crucial requirement.

2) Provide high level details and insights to back up your statement. Summarize the key findings from your research that confirm or refute your suggestions.

3) Support key insights with in-depth data, analysis, and evidence. Many of the initial analyses you do and summaries of the material you compile will likely be included on these backup pages. These facts help you and your audience to comprehend the matter thoroughly and recognize how your recommendations fit together.

The pyramid descends from the highest level of each argument to the lowest level, where evidence is provided to support the claims made. These three levels combined make up the pyramid shape.

Using this principle the speaker boosts their chance of progressing up the ladder by clearing out all unnecessary information, allowing the core ideas to take center stage.

5 tips for effective use of the principle

1) Put the main ideas in the title and avoid generalizations. So the audience will immediately see the main idea of the slide and will not guess the meaning.

2) Build a «pyramid» of content from top to bottom. This will make it easier to add information and won’t confuse you on the way.

3) The information on the first level of the pyramid should be obvious to your viewers. The better you present it, the fewer additional questions there will be.

4) All statements require justification until the questions to them disappear. This way you will convince the audience and help them understand your ideas.

5) Avoid repeating information at different levels of the pyramid, this often violates the logic of the speech. Repeat only the key points.

Following this simple principle will gather all your information into a clear structure and help you to convey even the most complex idea efficiently, simply, and effectively!