The Death of the Inverted Pyramid

Posted on November 10, 2016 by in Content development/ Copywriting

Most writers were taught to use the inverted pyramid. I know I was. And, I’ve even taught using the inverted pyramid in my writing workshops. But now I know…I was wrong. And I could use your help proving it. Details at the end.

Kill the Inverted Pyramid

Most of us start wide in our writing and marketing. We think we need to give a big introduction, warm up our audience, tell them who we are. It’s why we use the inverted pyramid. But we are so wrong.

The inverted pyramid is a great writing tool. Writers can begin wide and go deep. But it’s a deadly tool in our new age of distracted attention. Here’s why: Consumers don’t have time for wide anymore. When you use that approach, you cause audience zone out. People want to make decisions quickly; details give them that power.

Think of a realtor who is showing a house to a couple expecting their first baby. Does she say “This is the kitchen”? The couple knows it’s the kitchen. Does she say, “This is the family room?” when it’s obvious it’s the family room?

If she’s an effective realtor, she says “Can’t you imagine sitting here on a beautiful fall day curled up by the fireplace, all together on the couch, looking out this picture window at the beautiful fall leaves?” That’s going deep fast.

That realtor isn’t waiting to get to the bottom of the tip of the triangle—she’s starting right there, using the details of the house to paint a picture for the couple of what they truly want—a house they can turn into a home.

Do we really need to kill the inverted pyramid?

The truth is, probably not.  There are definitely times when the inverted pyramid can be useful. But too often I look at copy, or listen to a podcast, or watch a video and I think, “Shame, they really buried the lede here.” It happens so often—the things that consumers really care about get buried, instead of heading to the top, like the star on a Christmas tree.


About Ahava Leibtag

Ahava Leibtag, MA

Ahava R. Leibtag has more than 20 years of experience in writing, messaging and marketing. She is a well-recognized content expert and writes thought leadership about content strategy and content marketing. Ahava is the President and owner of Aha Media Group, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy founded in October 2005. She... More >