The Magic Rule of Threes: Put it to work in your next presentation.


I am such a fan of the rule of threes I refer to it as ‘magic’.  What is it?  The rule of threes is simply the idea that human beings naturally group things in threes.  We think in threes.  Examples?  Stop, yield and go, here there and everywhere, past, present and future, the genie grants three wishes, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Three Little Pigs, three strikes and you’re out, beginning, middle and end….I could go on and on.

If people think of things in threes, then it would make sense to structure presentations using this magic rule. (Remember, it is up to you to do the “heavy lifting” – to organize your presentation for your audience so that they can easily absorb and retain your message.) How to organize your presentation in threes? Here are examples:

1)  In any persuasive presentation your structure should be: Problem, Solution, Result. (three)

2)  Within a persuasive presentation, you can have three problems for which you are supplying one solution.

3)  Again within a persuasive presentation, you can have three great results that come from adopting your solution.

4)  Lastly, in a persuasive presentation, give three reasons why your solution will work.

5)  In an informative presentation – for example, a report on the status of a project – you can begin with ‘where you were’ go on to part two ‘where you are now’ and then to part three ‘where you are going’ (a riff on past-present-future).

When you sit down to create your next presentation, keep the magic rule of threes in mind. Imagine three buckets which you are going to label for your audience.  Perhaps the labels will be the three problems they’re facing, or maybe the three great results they’ll experience from adopting your proposed solution, or “here’s where we started”, “here’s where we are today” “here’s where we’re going”. How ever you label them, the content of your presentation will fill each one of these buckets.  Your audience will stay right along with you, mentally depositing the information you share into these three buckets you’ve created and labeled for them.  They’ll be grateful to you for organizing your message in threes.  You will have made it a cinch for them to absorb and retain your message. And you’ll be heard.

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