Rule of Three

The Rule of Three is the Key

The Three Musketeers. Sex, drugs and rock n roll. The Star Wars trilogy.

Ever notice that throughout literature, pop culture and film, three is a magic number? Beyoncé and her R&B group Destiny’s Child know this well. They started as a quartet but only hit it big as a trio.

Three also shows up in religion: Father, Son and Holy Ghost; in politics: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and in real estate: location, location, location.

It works in business communications, too.

A powerful writing technique dating back to Aristotle and his book Rhetoric, the rule of three groups concepts or ideas in threes.

It will make your pitches, messages and presentations clearer and more memorable.

How do you make your content pop? Here are a few tips. Well, three actually.

1. Have a beginning, middle and an end. Start off with a SHARP to grab your audience’s attention for a powerful first impression. Make your case in the body. Bring it home with a strong close and final SHARP.

2. State three key points in your Grid. It’s always helpful for your listener if you can connect the dots with a theme: the past, present and future, for example; or the situation, complication and resolution; or 3 key stakeholder insights from the last design review.

3. Pack a punch with three. Giving examples of something? Rattling off a list? Describing a person, idea or product? Consider using three words:

Attributes: Confident, credible, compelling
Campaign: Just Do It
Tech Specs: Increased speed, size and storage

If you use these three tips, you will be more prepared, more persuasive and more powerful in your next communication experience.

How have you seen the rule of three used?

Think back to the last time you got video feedback. What was the camera mounted on?

A tri-pod, no less.

Finish Your Presentation with a Strong Close

How many times have you been so relieved to finish your presentation that you rush through the end, muttering something along the lines of, “And that’s all folks – feel free to email me questions” – before collecting your things and jetting off? We have to be deliberate not to … Continue reading

A PowerPoint Paradigm Shift

Ever get into the rut of doing what you’ve always done because it’s comfortable – or because it’s the way it’s always been done? I’m talking about presentations – specifically the ones where you use PowerPoint. We were reminded of this when a client recently shared that he led a … Continue reading

Stop Compartmentalizing: Find a Story to Tell

Last week I was working with an executive, and he got flustered. “I can’t think of a story,” he said. I told him, “Just think about it – the stories will come to you.” And sure enough, they did. Why were we looking for stories? Not just because it’s trendy … Continue reading

Decrease Your Disparity Gap

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Is it the same person your boss, your family, your audience and everyone else sees? All of us, men and women, alike, can be our own harshest critics. That’s why Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign immediately went viral (as did … Continue reading

Emotion and Story Rule

You’ve heard us say it before, and we’ll say it again: People buy on emotion and justify with fact. There’s no better place to watch emotions unfold than on the Super Bowl, and it’s no surprise to us that the commercials that stood out were the ones that got us … Continue reading

Actually, Timing IS Everything

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” Michael Altshuler It’s your turn to present, but long-winded coworker Jeff ate half of your time slot. Your 30 minutes has now been chopped to 15. What do you do (other than eat half of Jeff’s “reserved” … Continue reading

The Significance of Storytelling

After writing about Compartmentalized Communicating, I’ve been thinking about how significant storytelling is to the successful communications experience. Nothing makes that human, emotional connection better than authentic, compelling storytelling. It was Hans Rosling‘s brilliant presentation of statistics at TED India that has kept this topic on my mind. As Hans … Continue reading

Compartmentalized Communicating

“I’m good at sharing facts. I don’t have to use emotion very often, but when I do, I need to speak at the emotion more.” This came from a client in a recent Platinum Session, referring to the commonly-held belief that engaging emotions is an effort we make only for … Continue reading

Feedback in Threes: Keepers, Improvements (& video)

To criticize used to mean “to give counsel.” Now it too often means to tear down. In the age of instant communicating, we need to pause and think about what true “criticism” really means – feedback. Without question, praise is the most powerful motivator. I was amazed at the profound … Continue reading