In the world of presentations, information retention is vital to the long-term success and effectiveness of your content. If your audience leaves your presentation and is unable to retain what you have just shared, then the presentation as a whole is a failure. However, if your audience leaves your presentation and can rattle off your main ideas in such a way that they will remember long term, your presentation is deemed a success.
While retention is the goal, the scattered reality of our mindsets is in a constant battle to distract and limit the ability for an audience member to retain anything.
Think of it this way: each member of your audience has entered the room under any number of circumstances. They could be stressed, excited, engaged, or disconnected. Aside from their mindset, there are 100 different things fighting for their attention as well.
With these conditions in mind, it is important that presenters utilize every tool in the book to overcome distractions and increase retention. One way to do that is through visual information, and another way is through repetition, but today we will propose a third, subtle way to elevate retention and increase engagement.
The Latin phrase Omne Trium Perfectum means everything that comes in threes is perfect, or every set of three is complete. It is this phrase that has brought to light the importance of the Rule of Three in presentations.
The Rule of Three capitalizes on the idea that our daily lives revolve around sets of 3. From the basic instructions in the TSA line, to the need to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency, our brains are hardwired to remember groupings of three. With this in mind, a presenter must embrace the importance of those complete sets when introducing information they wish for the audience to retain.
Let’s face it – no one will remember your 4th, 5th, or 6th point. But 1, 2, and 3, they will never forget. Consider this before you design your next presentation. You may have a lot to say, but think through the 3 most important ideas for your audience to remember and build your content around those. After all, after those 3 points, your hope of retention drastically declines.
The Rule of Three in many ways is the framework of our lives. It is used unknowingly by many and knowingly by some. As a presenter, this rule can not only set you apart from you colleagues, but it can lead to long-term engagement with you and your content. So next time you are tempted to add that 4th point, don’t. Instead, nail the first 3, and watch how your audience walks away with your content ringing in their mind.
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