The rule of 3 is a concept I teach my students regularly for learning and remembering information, academic writing and presentation skills.
It’s a simple concept which has proved very effective for both my students and I. Whether you are a student, career professional or business person, the rule of 3 is a classic and useful approach to presentations and good communication in general.
The Rule of 3 is one of the oldest in the book – Aristotle wrote about it in his book Rhetoric. Put simply it is that people tend to easily remember three things. – Charles Hooton, Presentation Skills, BEO Masters Programme 2016
Rule of 3 in presentation skills
In regard to presentation skills, the rule of 3 can be summarised and remembered as follows:
♦ A good presentation is divided in three parts; a beginning, middle and an end. Therefore, you should plan in advance the information to present and what section it should be included in.
♦ An audience is highly likely to only remember three things from your presentation, so carefully consider the three key things you want them to take away from your speech. Here you are only concerned with important information and not every minor detail.
♦ Famous speeches, past and present focus on three major points, for example;
Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered) – Julius Caesar
This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning – Sir Winston Churchill
Friends, Romans, Countrymen – William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar
Rule of 3 in academic writing
In academic writing, the rule of three is also useful and applicable;
- Just as in a presentation, an essay structure also consists of an introduction, main body and conclusion. In order to present information in a logical, interesting sequence which can be understood by the reader, you should also plan the information to include and what section it should be under.
- When making a point or argument, the basic structure should include the following three; statement of the point/issue/argument, evidence to support the point, analysis and development of the point and evidence.
- When writing an essay, the standard and minimum number of times you should draft and write it before submission is 3; you should write your plan, write a draft version and then re-write a final piece.
Rule of 3 in wider learning, work and/or business
Rule of 3 is also an effective method of organising and managing content for study and revision of topics for tests and exams.
♦ Some useful tips for work, study and exam revision:
- Divide long tasks into 3 smaller manageable ones over a 3 separate periods (e.g.: days, weeks, etc).
- Write three key points per post it note or flashcard, this makes it easier and quicker to take in important information especially when reviewing and revising for tests and exams.
- Use three different coloured pens or highlighters to underline important information contained in pages of long texts; decide what colour represents what, for example – pink for important dates, yellow for names of places, blue for names of people. This makes it easy for you to see important information quicker when skimming through large pieces of information.
I hope you have found this post on the rule of 3 useful and more importantly I hope you find ways to make it work for you for work and study and improving your presentation skills. Please share this with others who you think may also benefit from it.