© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd and Sissa Medialab srl. We apply an orthogonalization procedure on the effective field theory of large scale structure (EFT of LSS) shapes, relevant for the angle-averaged bispectrum and non-Gaussian covariance of the matter power spectrum at one loop. Assuming natural-sized EFT parameters, this identifies a linear combination of EFT shapes - referred to as the principal shape - that gives the dominant contribution for the whole kinematic plane, with subdominant combinations suppressed by a few orders of magnitude. For the covariance, our orthogonal transformation is in excellent agreement with a principal component analysis applied to available data. Additionally we find that, for both observables, the coefficients of the principal shapes are well approximated by the EFT coefficients appearing in the squeezed limit, and are thus measurable from power spectrum response functions. Employing data from N-body simulations for the growth-only response, we measure the single EFT coefficient describing the angle-averaged bispectrum with O(10%) precision. These methods of shape orthogonalization and measurement of coefficients from response functions are valuable tools for developing the EFT of LSS framework, and can be applied to more general observables.