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3 Times the Charm

April 5, 2023

Connect with your audience while presenting or speaking in public

Guidance and Shortcuts

Did your last audience engage with you right after your presentation (or pitch) with a perfectly clear, crisp understanding of your core message? Were they enthusiastic about your message? Could they directly connect with your message (and with you)? Not quite? Well, if you’re like most of us, you’re still refining your art of communicating as a presenter and public speaker. That’s good. Today we have a few handy tips on how to keep improving in this area. 

3 times the charm - the rule of three. 

Three is the magic number today. We have 3 basic points we want to get across: 

  1. Communicate a maximum of 3 key points to your audience
  2. Look at the same idea/argument from at least 3 different angles
  3. Repeat, repeat and repeat again your main points (at least 3 times) 
Don’t make your audience work extra hard just to try to understand what you’re saying and what is in it for them.

Let’s jump right into point number one: Why do we want to stick to just 3 main points in our presentation or speech? Firstly because we want our message to be easy to follow. Don’t make your audience work extra hard just to try to understand what you’re saying and what is in it for them. For sure to not make them guess which of your points are most important and which are less important. Make your key message(s) ultra clear. Bonus - by whittling down your arguments to your top 3 you’ll also create a more coherent, clear and understandable presentation. Secondly, stick to 3 points because your audience has a finite capacity for the amount of new information they are capable of receiving and processing. You may have ‘heard’ about this topic thousands of times - that's why you are an expert in it and can share insights - your audience on the other hand might be hearing it for the very first time.

Reading Tip: You can learn a lot by tapping into the art of UX design in books such as “Don't make me Think” by Steve Krug - the title speaks for itself 🤓

You, as a speaker, also have a limited capacity for how much information you can remember to convey in your own speech (this is assuming you are practicing a free, natural form of presentation, which we sincerely recommend over reading or scripting). Your 1, 2 or (maximum) 3 points should also connect logically and build upon each other - again: make it easy to follow.

Secondly, present the same idea from different angles. Preferably from at least 3 different angles. Why? Well let's check out this method by looking at three different analogies or stories to convey the same idea of diversity:

  1. When light hits a prism it is refracted into all of the colors of the rainbow. Is it not incredible that white light holds within itself the entire spectrum of color?
  2. A human being is capable of adapting and demonstrating many different forms of behavior: from gym shark, to studious bookworm, to cook, to athletic champ on the basketball court to concerned sibling. Can one person ever be clearly defined when our behavior is so dependent on environment and circumstance?
  3. Seen from space, Earth looks like a blue marble with white swirls with bits of brown, green and yellow. Meanwhile on Earth we experience extremely diverse ecosystems from scorching, dry deserts to oceans, wetlands, forests and the frozen tundra. 

💡Using different words, mental images and stories to say the same thing allows different people to connect with your message. One person may enjoy the light refraction analogy because they like physics. Someone else, a student of human nature, will appreciate the story about the diversity of human behavior. A third person, more ecologically or environmentally minded, will connect with the description of planet Earth’s diversity. When you say the same thing in a diversity of ways you have a better chance of connecting with more people in your audience.

Do you know exactly who your audience is? Even better. Now you can connect with them directly on their level using stories, examples and analogies that speak to them. Each person is living their own story. Each of us to some degree is living in our own bubble and within the tight sphere of our own reality and problems - we increase the success rate of our messages if we translate them into the "language" our audience is used to thinking in. So next time, ask yourself: What can you do or say and what comparisons can you use to get closer to your audience?

If you’d like to go over these same points but in video format - check out this video.

Your challenge is to find creative ways to remain interesting in your presentation while you get the information to stick!

Last but not least, let's look at the idea of repetition. Ideally, we want to repeat a key message at least 3 times. Why do we want to repeat a key message at least 3 times? Because repetition is natural. It’s how we learn. When a new born child starts moving their arms and legs, they are repeating the same motion over and over again until their fresh brain is programmed and shaped and is able to execute the targeted movement by default. Any new information or skill that you or anyone has acquired came through repetition and practice. Brains need time to process new information and circling back a few times to the same, new information is very helpful as we are literally wired to learn in this way. Your challenge is to find creative ways to remain interesting in your presentation while you get the information to stick! 

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