Creating reports and presentations

Managers, specialists and consultants have to create  reports und presentations to decision makers pretty often, but use these in a time consuming and boring way. They practically present a school essay.  Yet,it can get worse: Excelcharts included in slide presentations.

In her book “The Pyramid Principle”, Barabra Minto formulated a radically different concept: putting the  core nidea, the solution at the beginning of the presentation. From there, she derives logical, structural, content-related and formal aspects:

In her introduction she proposes to get the addresse from where he or she stands. – nothing new. But she expands the topic much wider: the listener to the presentation should be presented to a story he already knows, more like an intro to a sequence of situation-difficulte-core point – the last one already presenting the core idea of the presentation itself!

For the following structure she presents her actual “top down approach”, practically from the top of the pyramid “die klarste Abfolge ist immer, die summarische Idee anzugeben vor den einzelnen Ideen, die zusammengefasst werden.” (Übers. By)

She recommends to design differernt ideas according to the pattern

Situation – was weiß der Empfänger schon?

Schwierigkeit – was ist das Problem dabei?

Frage – was wird der Empfänger also fragen?

Antwort – die eigene Antwort, also Lösung, Idee…

In terms of form she recommends to create a picture in the mind of the addresse, but to reduce these to geometrical form (circles, lines…) to illustrate abstract topics. Even in texts “ist der Trick, die Substantive zu finden und nach der Beziehung zwischen ihnen zu schauen, um sie als Visualisierung zu sehen.”

The followung recommendations for the design of reports and presentations can be derived:

  • The actual argument has to be put first
  • Additional informationen belongs into back up
  • Begin with the key recommendation (idea)
  • explain the next level top down
  • Offer statetements in full sentences – alöl sentneces combined are the “story”
  • Support statements with information, especially graphics
  • Finish on a short summary (the core idea), orienting towards the next steps