The Rule of 3

The Rule of 3 is the ultimate simplification and framing device. It’s powerful because it simplifies anything AND offers an arrangement that is digestible… even attractive to the human mind.

We are wired to receive things in threes! When you have two of something it creates conflict – it’s an either / or. In a traditional three-act story, the second act creates the tension, and the third act resolves.

When you have more than three, studies show the brain is more inclined to ‘give up’ than to internalize all the points.

Going back age of the Roman ages, Cicero became a famed orator using the cadence of three’s in his speaking. Today, politicians, advertising agencies, and media people use this device — the second you look for it, it’s EVERYWHERE.

Think about the resonance and stickiness of three’s…

  • Father, Son, Holy Ghost.
  • Small. Medium. Large / Tall. Grande. Venti.
  • Faith, Hope, and Love.
  • Goldilocks. Mama Bear, Baby Bear, Papa Bear.
  • Blood, sweat, and tears.
    Note: This one comes from a Churchill speech, “Blood, toil, tears and sweat.” The fact that no one remembers ‘toil’ underscores the point of THREE.

We use the Rule of 3 in a lot of our For Impact framing.

Some applications:

  • Speaking. The next time you give a speech, focus on making just three points (or even better yet, three short stories – supporting three simple points). I’ve coached Fortune 500 CEO’s that have said, “I’ve had a lot of communications coaching. That’s one of the best tips I’ve ever received. It’s simple and works every time!”

  • AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

  • Simplifying Your Funding Message! Instead of trying to explain ALL of your programs and projects, simply say, “We do these THREE things…” (Notice how we do that in our presentation framework.)

  • Productivity. Try to accomplish ONLY THREE things in one day… and become more productive than you ever imagined.

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