Increase Your Influence Using the “Rule of Three!”
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen” – Winston Churchill
You may not realize it but most of the things that happen in your life happen in threes – your born, you live, you die; you go to class, you take a test, you get a grade; you apply for a job, you get the job, you leave the job. It is called the “Rule of Three” and it is a very powerful tool when you are communicating whether orally or through the written word.
When you read or hear someone speak, if the words on the page or the speaker’s words are divided into three main parts, they are more easily remembered. Think about it.
If you buy a new appliance, the instructions are usually divided into three parts – cautions, how to operate the appliance, and how to maintain the appliance.
If you are telling a story, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end.
You can solve a problem in three stages: define the problem, propose various solutions, select and implement one of the solutions.
Like other parts of life, there is magic in talking to people using the “Rule of Three.”
Your Audience Cannot Remember More than Three Main Points. Are you more likely to remember the last three things or the last 10 things you did today? Hopefully, you answered the last three things. Something happens to your audience if you ask them to remember more than three main points from your presentation. More than three main points in your presentation starts to get confusing for your audience. They start confusing your main points. The confusion gets more intense as your number of main points increases. Don’t do this to your audience and yourself!
Your Audience Will “Tune Out” after Your Third Point. There is a priest at my church whose homily drones on well past when the homily should have ended. The average homily in my church last ten minutes. However, this priest’s homilies last at least twice as long. One day he spoke for twenty-five minutes. It was pure agony. So, what is wrong with speaking for twenty-five minutes with well over three main points? You increase the risk of your audience “tuning you out.” We had a saying in the Air Force that is appropriate: “Be bold, be brief, be gone!” Say what you need to say using three main points and then sit down! Don’t fall in love with the sound of your voice!
Stories with Three Main Points are Memorable. Do you remember the stories your parents used to read to you. Do you know why they were and still are so memorable? It is because in each of those stories, the authors used the “Rule of Three.” The “Boy Who Cried Wolf” can be summed up in three parts: the boy cried wolf multiple times with the lumberjacks coming to his rescue, the last time the boy cried wolf it was for real, the lumberjacks did not come to his rescue. “Sleeping Beauty” can be summed up in three parts: Sleeping Beauty ate the poisoned apple given to her by the witch, she fell asleep, the prince awakened her with a kiss. Finally, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” has multiple examples of the Rule of Three: three bears, three porridges, three beds. Apply the “Rule of Three” to your stories and your audiences will be mesmerized!
Having three main points in your presentation makes it easily remembered, will reduce the urge of your audience to “tune you out,” and will make your stories more memorable!
Use the “Rule of Three” to increase your influence with your audience!
Your Call to Action
Use no more than three main points to make your presentation more easily remembered by your audience
Use no more than three main points to reduce the chances of your audience “tuning you out”
Use no more than three main points in your stories to make them memorable
“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of the other” – Napoleon Hill
DiBartolomeo Consulting International’s (DCI) mission is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence.
Contact DCI at
Office – (703) 815-1324
Cell/Text – (703) 509-4424