Communicate Better Using The Rule of Three

There’s one simple way to communicate better most of us forget. We get so busy trying to make sure we’re thorough and complete in crafting our business communication and presentations that we forget one simple rule we see everywhere. From Aristotle to Shakespeare to Steve Jobs – there’s one commonality among them all – the rule of three. The Rile of Three states that people tend to remember lists of three things. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The three little pigs. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Create your business communications or presentations around threes and you’ll have a foundation that is memorable.

rule of threes

Scientists have found that the number of items we can quickly recall in short-term memory is three or four “chunks” of information. So when crafting a speech, email or presentation -use the rule of threes to your advantage.

Here are Three Rules of Three –

  1. Set up your communication in threes – Whether its a speech, an email or a presentation divide it into threes. Give your audience a preview, delivery and a review. Or as Dale Carnegie says – “Tell them what you going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you just told them”.
  2. Three takeaways –  Regardless of the length of your communication, the delivery method or the time you put into it – people will only remember three things from it. Plan ahead what you want those three things to be. What three messages are most important to your cause? Once you’ve decided what these three points will be structure your communication around them. Make sure these points are reinforced by the information you provide and illustrated in a way that helps the audience to remember them.
  3. Use lists of threes. In addition to your three main points – use lists of threes. If you read my newsletter, you’ll notice I end with three action steps. That isn’t coincidental. It’s effective. In my coaching sessions we focus on clarity, credibility and connection. The three C’s of communication. Lists of three are easy to remember and focus on – athletes often have three phrases they repeat to themselves during a game or routine. Provide your audience the same – three areas of improvement, three problems facing the industry, three products that will revolutionize the industry.

    The third time can indeed be the charm! There’s a reason why triads have such a strong place in history and that is because there is strength and structure behind them. If you want to deliver communication that lasts and is remembered exercise the rule of threes.



Leave A Comment