User Experience (UX) design is the practice of creating products that are not only attractive and engaging, but also user-friendly and efficient. UX design provides relevant and meaningful experiences to the users of a product.

“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from the first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.” – Don Norman, inventor of the term “User Experience”

Once the design concepts are finalized internally, it is then up to the UX Designer to present their ideas to the client. This presentation is crucial to secure buy-in from the decision makers. One very effective method in presenting a convincing argument is the Minto Pyramid Principle.

Present The Answer First Followed By Supporting Arguments

The Minto Pyramid Principle (or “answer-first”) is a hierarchical structure created by Barbara Minto. This method is a top-down approach, where you present the main idea, or the solution, first, and then proceed with key supporting ideas, followed by the evidence to support those key ideas.

The Minto Pyramid Principle contains three levels of information (listed below in the order they should be presented):

  1. Answer – this is the key takeaway or conclusion but is presented at the beginning of the presentation. It is a simple, concise core idea or solution. There is a Minto framework for developing an answer, known as the SCQA (Situation, Complication, Question, Answer) Formula. You can read about it here.
  2. Supporting Arguments – The arguments follow the answer and should be presented in a “mini pyramid” of sorts, having each argument branching out into their own supporting facts. Generally, each argument should be supported by three ideas.
  1. Supporting Data or Facts – The data or facts will validate the supporting arguments.

Apply the Minto Pyramid Principle to Your Presentation to Maintain Interest and Get Stakeholder Buy-In

I’ll admit, when I first learned of this method of presenting ideas to a client, I initially felt that it couldn’t possibly work for the design team. We were so used to starting with presenting the evidence, then presenting key ideas that will support the conclusion, while saving the big reveal, our design solution, until the end. Once I understood how the Minto Pyramid worked, my concerns disappeared.

Much like a UX designer creating a product that is logical and easy to understand, the presentation explaining the product to the client must also be logical and easy to understand. The designer must account for the attention span of the audience and structure the presentation accordingly. The Minto Pyramid takes people’s short attention span into account by giving the audience what they want up front: the answer, or the solution to the problem. Once the client knows the answer, then they are more likely to follow the supporting information that comes next with greater interest. They will want to see how you came to that conclusion. This order for presenting your ideas, answer first, can be very persuasive in getting the client to agree with your solution, since they will have the benefit of knowing the answer before being fed all the evidence. This information will bolster your idea, giving the client time to understand all the reasons how and why you came up with your solution, instead of spending time wondering what your answer will be.

“You must recognize that a reader, no matter how intelligent he is, has only a limited amount of mental energy available to him. Some of it will be used up just recognizing and interpreting the words, a further amount seeing the relationships between the ideas, and whatever is left comprehending their significance.” – Barbara Minto

The Minto Pyramid format allows you to put your main idea in front of your client at the beginning of the meeting. Normally this would occur at the end, after all the evidence and supporting details have been provided. By the time you reached the end of your presentation, your client might have checked out, lost interest, started checking their phone, or left the meeting to tend to other pressing matters. Using the Minto Pyramid “answer-first” sequence allows the presenter to reveal the main conclusion right away. The presenter can then assess the audience to determine if they have time to go into more detail in case the client decides to cut the meeting short or must leave early. If this were to happen in the “answer-last” scenario, the client could possibly get up and leave the meeting without ever seeing the UX designer’s conclusion (normally revealed at the end); instead, only seeing the supporting details and information without any context or result.

Apply These Best Practices To Your Minto Presentation

Here are a couple tips to follow when doing presentations in Minto format:

  1. Remove any title or divider slides as they are unnecessary and distract from the main purpose of the presentation – to get buy-in from stakeholders. Whatever you’d put on these slides, can be spoken instead.
  2. Remove superfluous information from your presentation that does not support the answer. No additional details are needed.

“The best text slides convey their message as starkly and simply as possible. They do not waste words (or slides) on transitional or introductory points, which can and should be stated orally. This means of course that the slides by themselves will not be intelligible as a handout to someone who has not attended the presentation.” – Barbara Minto

Implement the Minto Pyramid Principle and Reap the Benefits

The Minto Pyramid Principle provides a clear, concise, and logical framework for presenting a design solution. Revealing the solution first gives the client the opportunity to thoughtfully consider each supporting argument and the supporting data or facts so they can make a more informed decision. This structure offers more efficient and memorable storytelling, which benefits not only the UX designer but the client as well.