The rule of three

I was in a one-day sales class last week on the proper way to do presentations and the focus was on a term called, the rule of three. The class was being taught by a very accomplished instructor and the time I spent that day, really helped reinforced the basics of selling. As I have often said, everyone is salesman regardless of your job title. Everyone is making an “impression” with everything they say or do and basically selling themselves.

The rule of three is not just a business term. It can help you in an interview, lead a meeting or even work with your neighborhood association. Basically, any situation where you are asked to, contribute, lead, or give advice. Anyone who has ever had teenage girls knows that telling your daughter you want to talk to her about three things lets you ease into the third point which is usually the real reason you needed to talk to her. ha

The rule of three is basically boiling down all your thoughts into three main points. The beginning, the middle and the end. If you waffle or get caught on some other tangent, you will lose your audience. Three is the universal number that is founded all through history and it is also the exact number of things most people remember best. If you go into a meeting with 15 things, you will lose your audience after three. There needs to be three main points that can have minor topics within them but by telling the person or persons you are meeting with that you want to cover three things, it helps hold their attention and gives them a gauge on where you are in the presentation. It is so simple, yet so very hard to do.

I cannot tell you how many church sermons I have sat through where the pastor has twelve pages of notes and thinks, by God, I need to get through all 12 pages. If he would just look up, he would see that after 20 minutes (which is also the magic attention span) that the people have drifted and thinking about anything else other than what he is talking about. Mostly what they are having for lunch. In business, you need get their attention within the first 30 seconds, then hold their attending with a compressed outline and then end the presentation by giving a summary of what you have discussed. Simple, right? So again, start off with an opening that gets their attention, then give them the meat of the presentation and end with summary of the three things you discussed.

The next time you are asked to lead a meeting, practice this a few times in the mirror and you will be amazed how well the audience receives what you say. You gave them the fast opening, then got to the main points and then reinforced in your closing what you needed them to remember. It is classic speaking 101. KT

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