The Good, The Bad and The Ugly; The Three Musketeers; ABC… Simple, catchy and highly memorable, it’s no accident that these phrases stick in our mind. They all use a classic principle called The Rule of Three. A rule, that when used to its full advantage, can turn your message and presentation into a captivating success.
By tapping into an integral part of how we process and remember information, The Rule of Three is based on the knowledge that people are more likely to remember and absorb information when it’s presented in 3’s. Add any more points and you’ll find that people’s attention falls off considerably. So chances are, if your presentation has numerous messages, the audience will only remember three of them clearly, leaving a presentation that people are likely to forget.
So how does it work? The human mind is geared up to remember things in patterns and the Rule of Three is the smallest number of elements required to make a pattern. Put simply, it’s that people tend to easily remember three things.
So, if you’re looking to make your presentations compelling, clear and concise, read on…
Communicate no more than three main points:
Before creating your slide presentation, pinpoint your main message. What do you want to communicate to your audience? What thoughts do you want to leave them with? Whatever your message is, ensure you make no more than three main points – any more and your audience is likely to forget them.
Divide your message into (you guessed it) three main parts
Once you’ve decided on your main message, you can start to structure your presentation.
Start by dividing it into three parts; this can be as simple as a ‘beginning, middle and end’ or ‘past, present and future’. Think of your presentation as a story that will lead the audience through your message.
Use the ‘beginning’ as an attention grabber, the ‘middle’ as the crux of the matter (with no more than three main points) and the ‘end’ to wrap things up; leaving the audience with a clear, concise and inspiring message. Remember everyone loves story!
Use lists of 3 wherever you can.
The late Steve Jobs was well known for using the Rule of Three in his presentations.
You may recall he described the iPad 2 as “Thinner, Lighter and Faster”. Describing everything the audience needed to know in a simple, impactful and memorable way. Not only did it resonate in the audiences mind, but it also created a Twitter friendly headline that has become an essential part of brand promotion and awareness.
Like any good brand, your slides should have a consistent look and feel throughout. You can draw inspiration from your company branding, or from the theme of the event. Using The Rule of Three will help you achieve a presentation that’s not only consistent, but professional and impactful. Here’s how you do it...
Choose Three Font Sizes
Choosing three font sizes is a great way to guide the audiences’ attention to visual hierarchies, and to keep a varied but consistent look throughout the slides. Always make sure that your most important point is the biggest, for example the title, as people are naturally drawn to bigger elements first.
This rule can also be applied to three different font weights or even three totally different fonts! The choice is yours and will naturally depend on your brand guidelines.
Choose Three Colours
Depending on your company branding or the tone of your presentation, choose three colours and stick to them! Like choosing three fonts sizes, using colours will create visual hierarchies and can reinforce important messages in a subtle way.
A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
It’s true what they say, a picture really does paint a thousand words.
Remember, the more text you have on a slide the more you are asking the audience to split their attention between listening to you and reading – and if you've ever tried to do that you will know it’s impossible! Treat your slides as a visual aid that reinforces your spoken message.
Use images instead of words wherever possible and this will ensure your presentation not only looks more striking, but creates instant reactions in your audiences. Choosing the right imagery can stir emotions and enhance your message without distracting from what’s being said.
Delivering an engaging presentation doesn’t need to be a complex business. Simply incorporating The Rule of Three is a fantastic way of creating effective, clear and memorable presentations ensuring your messages are received and understood – and even more importantly connect you with your audience.
So next time you’re creating a presentation, remember less is more – why give an audience four, five, six messages when chances are they’ll remember only three!
If you’d like to take advantage of Lemoncake’s presentation expertise and get connected with your audience, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
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