When simple things in life are often the best…

When simple things in life are often the best…

In the world of communication, there are many traps for young players.  While some involve avoiding clichés like the plague, others are more subtle concerning the best way to engage an audience and effectively convey a message.

As communicators, we often spend too much time working on multi-layered strategies to try and convey complex details, when in fact we should be trying to tell simple stories with messages that have a lasting impact.  It’s hardly surprising that the stories and messages which give us lifelong learning’s, follow a simple, easy to execute formula.

The ‘rule of three’ is one of the most common methods used to communicate effectively; yet many professional communicators are either unaware, haven’t recognised or are yet to discover this simple method.

We’ve intuitively known about the ‘rule of three’ since we can ever remember.  The first stories we were told revolved around ‘Three Little Pigs’, for generations we’ve told kids to ‘clean your teeth, go to the toilet and hop into bed’, we’ve told jokes about the Australian, Englishman and the Irishman and at birthday’s we’ve celebrated by cheering ‘Hip, Hip, hooray’!

It’s a simple rhythm of understanding that has worked since stories began and has been harnessed effectively by communication experts.

Caesar and Shakespeare combined for “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”, we were convinced by marketing gurus that a “Mars a day helps you work, rest and play” and even President Obama rode into office with “Yes We Can”.

Oddly enough, it was Obama’s predecessor who gave us one of the more memorable rule of three moments in recent times.  Not widely known as being an oratory giant, it was President George W. Bush who while standing amongst the rubble of the World Trade Centre in the days following the September 11 terrorist attacks addressed fire fighters and other first responders at the scene, telling them that they were in the country’s prayers.

Someone in the crowd shouted that he couldn’t hear the President with Bush replying with the words that made history.

“I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear us all soon.”

Mirroring the mood, sentiment and feeling, the crowd reacted with loud, prolonged chants of “USA! USA! USA!”

Effective use of the rule of three isn’t restricted to our leaders; the ‘X’ factor of great actors often lies with them being great communicators.  Take a close look at Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar acceptance speech for Best Actor for his performance in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ at the 86th Oscars in 2014.

Regarded as one of the more memorable speeches in recent times, McConaughey follows the tried and true ‘rule of three’ formula that itself is almost worthy of an Oscar nomination.

For the moments we don’t have an Oscar winner on hand to deliver our key messages, we need to think about simplifying the delivery; yet keep it engaging.

Take the task of combining motivation and engagement.  The cliché move would be to go to the ‘captain’ the ‘coach’, the ‘politician’, while the more effective communicator opts to disarm, engage and motivate by using a simple twist; like a Kid President… and yes, still use the ‘rule of three’.


Each week a staff member puts pen to paper to write about an aspect of content communication that speaks to them, and hopefully, informs you. This is a space where our passion for writing, learning and sharing information comes to shine.

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