Using the rule of 3 – a formula for organized and effective communication
Have you ever wondered why people don’t really listen to you or simply overlook you in meetings and discussions? Perhaps you’re one of those people who have difficulty getting their ideas across in a clear, confident and concise way. Or, you might tend to ramble on and think out loud while others try and figure out what you’re saying.
No matter what your situation is, the cost of not speaking with clarity and confidence is that people tune out, and your message gets lost, not to mention the missed opportunity to show up like a leader and influencer.
So, if you struggle with getting to the point and articulating your ideas, I’d like to share a very simple tool to help you speak confidently. It’s called the “Rule of 3”.
Actually, it’s so simple that you might think it simplistic. But hear me out, as it’s had a very beneficial impact on many of my clients who were in the same predicament.
Before I share it, let me just set a preamble:
Communicating intelligently is the art of taking the endless strands of thought-yarn drifting through your mind and crafting them into something cohesive, intelligible and tangible for others.
In other words, it is your responsibility to deliver to your listeners a result that’s gone through a process of refinement first.
There are many ways to communicate with impact, of course, but given the information overload we deal with on a daily basis, the Rule of 3* is probably a very safe bet.
The Rule of 3 is a rhetorical device that breaks down your communication into 3 sizeable parts. It’s easy for you to formulate, and it’s equally simple for the audience to follow. Let me give you an example for the following scenario:
You’re in a meeting, and you want to share or comment on something. Rather than worrying about making a sensational contribution and passing up the opportunity to speak, you try this very structured approach:
“I’d like to add something. Firstly, Jean made a great point. Secondly, I think it’ll have many positive ramifications and lastly, I think we should share it with the Director.”
3 clear and concise ideas. I agree, you didn’t say much, but you said what was essential, and you articulated it in a way that demonstrates clarity and confidence.
Here’s another example:
“I agree we need to move on, but here are my concerns with the proposed change: Firstly, ….Secondly,….And finally….”
You may think this is formulaic. And it is. But the point is that if you give the Rule of 3 a chance, it’ll start establishing reference points in your mind and seamlessly guide you in your communication. Once you feel secure enough about this framework, you can drop the crutch.
The Rule of 3 is all about giving you confidence. This structure gives you comfort and predictability, especially when under pressure. Moreover, it allows the audience to easily follow you and make sense of what you’re trying to say.
Making your point clear and advocating for yourself is a challenge on any given day, and hopefully this simple Rule of 3 will add another tool on your path to becoming a great communicator.
*The Rule of 3 goes back to the rhetorical principles of Ancient Greece and is found today in anything from speeches, entertainment to marketing. It suggests that an audience is more likely to follow and retain information if laid out in 3 entities or segments.
- The 3 steps for earthquake safety – Drop/Cover/Hold on
- Nike slogan – Just Do It
- 3-Act operas, plays, etc.
- Folklore: The 3 Little Pigs, The 3 Musketeers, Goldilocks and the 3 Bears etc.