One of the most prevalent principles of public speaking is the Rule of Three. You will see this speech writing technique used over and over again because it is simple, it is powerful, and it works. The Rule of Three allows you to express concepts more clearly, emphasize your main points, and increase memorability of your presentation. So, just what is the Rule of Three and how do you use it in presentations?
The Rule of Three has been around for centuries and across a variety of disciplines. Trios, triplets, and triads are present throughout history and can be found across nearly every medium from religion and politics to movies and societal mottos. A few examples include:
-The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
-The Three Wise men and their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh
-Nursery Rhymes like The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears
-The U.S. Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
-Famous Speeches: “Veni, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered), “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” (Shakespeare)
What’s Special About the Rule of Three?
As seen in these various examples, it is a popular method to group things by three’s, but why? The answer is simple: people tend to remember lists of three. It can be impossible to expect your audience to remember everything you say in your presentation, but it is possible for them to remember three things. For this reason, you should structure your presentation in a way that focuses on three core points. You can spend some time further illustrating each point, but be mindful of the three most important points you want your audience to take away from your presentation.
“Less is More” in Presentations
If you have five or six points you want to discuss, you need to choose the three most important ones and cut the rest out. Your audience won’t remember them anyway, so spend your time perfecting the big three. You have to be mindful of your audience’s attention span. They will lose interest and forget everything if your presentation drags on too long. Don’t overcomplicate the presentation with too much content. Instead, choose three core points and focus on creative ways to illustrate each point through visuals, charts, graphs, video clips, and stories. Doing so will get your audience to “stop, look, and listen!”