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The Rule of Three

by Randall Craig on December 7, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , ,

Have you ever read a blog post or listened to a presentation, only to find yourself unable to recall what was written or said? Have you ever found yourself frustrated when your own ideas are so quickly forgotten?

There are many possible reasons for this, but often the culprit is a lack of focus in the message itself. Consider these ideas:

1) Keep your post, email, or presentation to one key topic. If a second topic is equally important, then create a second post, email or presentation.

2) Personalize your message, in order to help the reader or listener understand the relevance to them.

3) The Rule of Three: strengthen your key message with three supporting pillars. They can be examples, implications, stories, statistics, or just about anything. Beyond the reinforcing benefit, your audience may identify with these pillars better… which leads to better recall of your key point.

You probably noticed that this post itself is self-referential: it models the very advice that it gives. The key topic is how to improve recall. The personalization happens in the first paragraph, where I tie into the frustration that many of us feel, either as communicators or as readers/listeners. And the three supporting pillars are obvious: key topic, personalize, and Rule of Three.

This week’s action plan: Use the Rule of Three in your next presentation, email, or blog post. You’ll be more focused and your audience will have more recall… resulting in a far greater impact.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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