The best book for communication skills – OurWarwick
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The best book for communication skills

Summary of post:

  • I believe The Pyramid Principle can speed up your career by about 5 years because of the way it will make you stand out with stronger communication skills both verbally and non-verbally.
  • The key message from the book (although I am oversimplifying the information) is to communicate in a top-down fashion i.e. having the main message of your point at the start and then inductively explaining the reasoning thereafter – in the shape of a tree diagram.

Written by the first woman at Mckinsey, this book could probably singlehandedly speed up your career by 5-8 years; that’s at least what my mentor told me during a remote internship I undertook in summer 2020. I was very keen to understand what they meant and how one book could do such a thing. Eventually, I understood: communication is the key to almost everything we do work-related whether it’s communicating to a customer and convincing them of a product, or reporting back to a manager, or communicating within a team. A lot of this communication is done verbally in live meetings, and a lot of it is done asynchronously through emails, written reports and the like. There is one common denominator in every team’s success and efficiency: the clarity of communication.

Barbara Minto explains how although one book can’t change the style of writing or someone’s general command and confidence of a language, what she does do is show how everyone can become sharper in their communication through changing the structure of their writing. That is, the priority should be on clear communication so that the recipient understands, rather than appearing sophisticated through convoluted explanations.

I still have a very long way to go in harnessing Minto’s technique of top-down communication and writing with such clarity for the reader, nonetheless, I feel this is an excellent book to share for any of us going through university, working in teams for group projects and applying to internships/grad schemes to eventually work under someone else (or perhaps venture into entrepreneurship). Applications of this book extend to any essay writing modules, any cover letters you must to write, interview questions you must answer or even points you want to make in a meeting and so on.

Unfortunately, there is not yet an audiobook available for The Pyramid Principle, but perhaps that is best since there are many illustrations demonstrating some of the key concepts e.g. how explaining things through a diagram can make digesting information for the reader far easier. The book costs about £30 from Amazon, but I can guarantee this won’t be a single read – the book is probably most effective when read once or twice per year. If you’re like me and find it difficult to read physical books on a consistent basis and instead prefer audiobooks, then that’s no problem, because the book is only 180 pages long. However, since the book is packed with a lot of valuable information and it isn’t an entertainer, I would recommend sticking to a simple reading rule e.g. 5 pages per day – that will get you through the book in about a month which will be enough time to help you see just how applicable the book is to everyday life whether work or conversation.

I remember reading this in the September of 2020 – the same time the waves of investment banking internship applications had hit and I began to immediately see how quickly I could apply the techniques to interview responses and to cover letters. I am confident that if you read this book, you’ll see the real-life applications quickly and will think, just as I did, how much of a shame it was to not have found this book sooner.

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