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The pyramid technique (see fig. 1) is an effective technique used in technical writing, such as letters and short reports. This technique is structured like a pyramid - with a short, concise summary at the top, backed by a wide range of additional facts at the bottom, known as the full development. If you picture this in your mind, you can see it shapes out to become a pyramid, hence the name. For longer documents, we often include an extra step - essential details, between the summary and the full development.
The pyramid technique organizes your information so that the first paragraph presents main points to grab and maintain the reader's attention. This paragraph must be well written as it will more than likely determine the reader's decision on whether they will read the rest of the document.
If your information is clearly displayed and well structured, the reader is more likely to be attentive and focused on your piece of work. The pyramid technique helps to achieve this. It also creates a constant structure for your work, so any reports which link together will flow. If you are using the pyramid technique, it is important to remember to consider who will be reading your report and use the appropriate language. For example, if you report is going to be read by high school students then you would use different terms compared to if it was going to be read by a head engineer.
The inductive technique is the opposite of the pyramid technique - the topic is explained in detail first, and summarised at the end. This technique is useful in speeches, as it explains all the details first to give the listeners some foundation knowledge, and at the end goes over the main points to refresh their memories.
This technique is also used in speeches to differentiate them from reports (where the pyramid structure is commonly used.) It also helps the listeners to focus on the main points of the speech, because they are explained last.
Both these techniques are important writing skills to learn and when you master them, it will help you develop into a competent technical writer.