The Rule of THREE. . .

ThreeTHREE is Magic!
This – Understand It – Use It!

The goal of all communication is the audience GETS IT! They don’t have to agree with everything said, but they do have to understand to have a conversation going forward.

The Rule of Three helps those you speak to grasp the meaning of your talk.

Three blind mice.

The Three Stooges.

Three strikes – you’re out!

Ready – Aim – Fire!

The third time is the charm.

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

I came, I saw, I conquered.

Good – Better – Best!

Low – Medium – High

The number Three, throughout history and used in a variety of ways, has been important, and continues to be.

A Three-Act play is the standard structure in Hollywood.

In a speech, there is the Opening – Body – Conclusion.

When telling jokes, the formula is: Setup – Anticipation – Punch line.

If you want to emphasize a point and have people remember: Repeat – Repeat – Repeat.

For speakers, it’s essential to study this, implement it, and become an expert at using it!  (That was three, wasn’t it?)

In his book, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, Roy Peter Clark provides insights to the magic of the number three: “The mojo of three offers a greater sense of completeness than four or more.”

Clark correctly points out, “We use one for power.  Use two for comparison, contrast.  Use three for completeness, wholeness, roundness.  Use four or more to list, inventory, compile, and expand.”

Here are a few examples:
• “Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunites!”
• “If we want the audience to GET IT! we need to Educate, Entertain, and Explain.”
• “I speak, coach, and write about networking, speaking, and presentation skills.”

This is great advice. Understand it – Think about it when developing your talks  – Use it!

About the Author:
Fred E. Miller coaches, speaks and writes about Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.



  1. Joe High


    Not only that, but 3 is easier to remember than 4, for those of us who are memory-challenged!

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  3. Russ Henneberry

    Great stuff Fred. I never really thought about it before but certainly when giving presentations, it is very common (and familiar) to see three points made about a particular topic. For whatever reason, it just feels right. Thanks for pointing this out.

  4. Alice Vlietstra

    It’s great to know our minds responds to three. Thanks for sharing Clark’s insights on the unique properties of three —
    One for power, two for comparison and contrast, and three for wholeness and completeness. Three is enough for me.

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