The Number One Public Speaking Rule

“Omne Trium Perfectum”

IMG_4521 (1)Make the Rule of Three your number one rule of Public Speaking, and your message will be heard, understood, and repeated always, and forever. The Rule of Three is a powerful technique, which dates back to the beginning of time. The Romans practiced and applied this writing and speaking principle. They referred to it with the Latin maxim – “Omne Trium Perfectum” which means, “Everything that comes in threes is perfect.” Today, speakers used trios to make their presentations more engaging, enjoyable, and a lot more memorable. It is a tried, tested, and proven writing principle that is effective when conveying information with brevity, rhythm, and recall.

This Rule of Three manifests itself in many different ways on or off the platform.  It can add humor to your content. When the third example of a trio runs contrary to the first one or two, if the third is a twist or that which is unexpected, the result is natural humor. Many speakers use this technique when adding humor to content. The Rule of Three can also be applied when speakers are delivering persuasive speeches to rally support. A classic example is Winston Churchill’s famous Blood, Sweat, and Tears speech. Note his skillful us of the power of threes in the line: – “I can promise you nothing but blood, sweat, and tears.” And who will ever forget -Friends, Romans, Countrymen” – William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar.

Many more examples of the power of the Rule of Three are documented in the scriptures, nursery rhymes, and fairy tale. Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and The Three Musketeers are all examples. Even in sport, the Rule of Three sets the standard. In Baseball – “Three Strikes and you are out.”  It is a well-established fact that humans can only hold a small amount of information in their short term or ‘active,’ memory. When content is presented in a group of threes, trios, a pattern is generated with a natural rhythm. The ordering and patterns created are easily stored in the brain for quick recall, from our short-term memory in “chunks.” Audiences remember those chunks and small patterns of information easier than longer phrases or sentences.

Speakers, we are all taught a speech should have an opening, body, and closing. Some Public Speaking coaches can look at a soft-copy or script of a speech and tell if that speech will be “Good Bad or Ugly.” As you prepare your content, practice, and apply the principle of threes. Make it your number one writing principle. Focus on the Rule of Three as you create your content. Try structuring your format like a play:- act one, act two, and act three.

Your act one, two and act three format will help your audience grasp your material quickly and even make the scenes you have created more visual. Your storyline and message will also be easier to follow. Practice using the “act one, act two, act three structure, and you will also find it helps with your delivery when you are on or off the platform. Make the Rule of Three your number one rule of Public Speaking, and your message will be heard, understood, and repeated, always and forever.

Author: HenryOMiller

Henry joined Toastmaster in March of 1997. He is presently a member of five clubs in the Santa Cruz and San Jose area. Henry is an executive speech coach, humorist, and speechwriter. He is also a musician and a lyricist​ who likes to approaches his speechwriting similar to his approach to songwriting.