They say if you want something stuck in someone’s head, put it in a sequence of three.

You must have heard of the story or novel titles, Three Blind Mice, The Three Musketeers, Three Wise Men and Three Men in a Boat? Have you ever thought why the number three is so predominant in fairy tales, myths and stories?

Scientifically speaking, three is the smallest number of elements required to create a pattern. Also, research shows that we can recall just three to four items from our short-term memory. This power of three has culminated in the Rule of Three.

What Is The Rule Of Three?

Plays, typically, have a three-act structure. Every film or story is divided into three parts—the beginning, middle, and end. Three bullet points drive home the message more effectively than two or four.

The Rule of Three is a powerful technique or principle required for writing or speaking. It states that any ideas, thoughts, events, characters or sentences that are presented in threes are more effective and memorable. Hence, it is called the Rule of Three.

A Latin saying, ‘Omne trium perfectum’ literally means ‘everything that comes in threes is perfect’. The ancient Romans valued the Rule of Three. You, too, can enhance the quality and memorability of your communication, written or verbal, with the Rule of Three. Whether it is an essay, a public speech, a group discussion, or a presentation, leave an impact with the Rule of Three.

How To Use The Rule Of Three In Communication?

  • Divide your content or speech into three parts—the beginning, middle, and end. Shape it up with a proper introduction, body content, and summary.

  • Break the body content into the three most important points or three core ideas.

  • Use three powerful words successively to express your central idea. For example, liberty, equality, and fraternity, the national motto of France.

  • Repeat small sentences, phrases, or words which convey your central message. This will make your speech more impactful and strong.

Examples Of The Rule Of Three

In Western as well as Indian culture, the Rule of Three is often used. Politics, movies, vision statements, mottos, and stories, you name it and they are full of examples of Rule of Three.

Superman’s motto, ‘Truth, Justice and the American Way’, is much loved through various generations. The US Declaration of Independence proudly proclaims: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The torch of the Olympics blazes in glory with its timeless motto, ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ (faster, higher, stronger).

It is believed that the Rule of Three is successful in getting things done. Historical speeches are full of such trios. Roman Emperor Julius Caesar said, ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’ (I came, I saw, I conquered).

Who can forget the words of then US President Abraham Lincoln during the Gettysburg Address, a speech delivered during the American civil war? He said, “We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground… government of the people, by the people, for the people.” It is one of the best examples of Rule of Three.

When three parallel elements such as words or phrases come one after the other to communicate a message, they are called a tricolon. This type of Rule of Three is expressed in former US president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s advice, “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”

When previous US president Barack Obama said in his keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention, “Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation—not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy,” the Rule of Three is proven effective.

Final Thoughts

The Rule of Three is a highly powerful and impressive technique of communication. You should learn, practice, and master it to apply it in your next speech. Use the Rule of Three by splitting your presentation into three parts or by highlighting three unique features of a product.

Harappa’s Speaking Effectively course introduces you to the tried-and-tested formula of the Rule of Three, which is a strategy to make messages effective and memorable. In addition, you learn to form powerful frameworks that can help you build a lasting first impression.

This high-impact course guarantees strong communication skills and success. It helps you deliver ideas with precision, use empathy and logic to connect with people, and stand out as an effective speaker. So, go ahead and get a grip on the Rule of Three.

Explore topics such as Public Speaking, Audience Analysis, Tone of Voice, 7 C’s of communication, and the Elements of Communication from our Harappa Diaries blog section to ace your soft skills.