The Rule of Three

  • August 22, 2019 by Janice Dimock, DTM, Division A Director
checkboxes and hand on whiteboard

Does planning and organizing your speech seem overwhelming? Not sure where to begin and what to include? Don’t panic! The Rule of Three is here to help. For centuries, we humans have grouped things into threes, making three a subconsciously comfortable number for many things. Using the rule of three will not only help you outline the structure of your talk; it will also help you narrow down your content. Let’s take a look at how this works.

Most speeches have 3 basic parts: introduction, body and conclusion – the first appearance of the “Rule of Three.” Your introduction should draw your audience in and let them know what your speech will be about. Start with a hook that captures the attention of the audience. Once you’ve done that, set the stage for what you will be presenting. Your introduction is to ‘introduce’ the main theme of your speech. You are priming the audience receive your message.

The body of the speech supports the thesis you set forth in the introduction. A great way to build the body is to USE the “Rule of Three” again. Pick 3 main points to make your case. More than likely, you will have many more than 3 of these. Using the Rule of Three keeps your content focused and on point. Too many examples can dilute the message and distract the audience. Brainstorm as many ideas as you like, then chose the 3 that best support your message.

Your conclusion should tie everything together and emphasize the main theme. Don’t be afraid to restate some of your main points. As the saying that goes, ‘tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them’. Notice there are 3 parts to that saying- the “Rule of Three” again. Repetition is an effective form of communication, since statistics show that people need to hear things up to 7 times before they actually remember. Use your conclusion to drive the main points home. If you have a call to action, you also want to work that into the conclusion.

Creating your speech becomes more manageable when you apply the “Rule of Three.” First, there are 3 sections to your speech- introduction, body and conclusion. Second, develop the body of the speech by incorporating three supporting points. Third, bring it all together with a strong conclusion that drives your message home. Three sections, three supporting points, three chances to tell them what you want to tell them.

Never fear speech planning again- the “Rule of Three” will guide you!