Do you remember the three musketeers? Three bears? Tic, Tac, Toe? Tom, Dick, and Harry? And Aristotle's Pathos, Ethos, and Logos?
Why have most of the traditional folktales fleshed out their main characters on the number three?
Because the number 3 has a powerful connection with our brain.
Why Our Brain Likes Number 3
We remember things in 3s because the number 3 has some great action patterns or archetypes that have a relationship with mirror neurons.
Essentially, we naturally look for and create patterns in everything we do, and the number 3 is effective because it’s the lowest figure that can create patterns in our minds.
For short-term memory, our brain can only remember three things; maybe 5 if we’re lucky.
What Is the Rule Of Three?
It is a writing principle that signifies that a trio of ideas, events, or characters is more effective, satisfying, and captivating than other numbers. Any text or phrase written in the combination of 3 helps us remember the information conveyed. Authors, speakers, or content creators appear knowledgeable by combining three entities with brevity, rhythm, and coax.
The rule of three is an incredible structural tool for content creation to set up an outline, build anticipation, and conclude with a punch line.
Most of the screenplays, slogans, advertisements, business communication, and presentations generally follow a three-act structure.
Psychological Influence on Readers
The rule of three coveys complicated ideas to the audience with a compelling and memorable format. Therefore, throughout history, whether it is marketing content, storyline, or any piece of literature, this rule has been used to deliver messages effectively.
The wisdom in the Rule of three has also worked for many talented leaders, including Thomas Jefferson, Julius Caesar, Steve Jobs, and Aristotle.
In public speaking, thought leaders often use three statements to iterate a single message, drive home their points, motivate their audience, and boost their memory of their words. Because humans tend to remember a message when it is presented thrice.
Tips to Create Content With The Rule of Three
The rule of three can make a message a little more complete, persuasive, and memorable. It’s a writing hack that can add meat to your content whenever you use it.
1. Understand the Three-act Structure Model
The rule of three is formed on the three-act structure model and is commonly used in narrative fiction. Screenplay writers use this to divide the story into three parts. As a content writer, you can also use this model to craft an engaging article.
- Set up an outline
- Incite action
The First Act (Set up an outline)
This part is typically used for discussion. Here you can write a brief outline of the main points in your article. In this act, you have to ignite the interest that makes your readers curious. It's kind of putting a dramatic situation that raises the interest in the climax of the film.
You can frame this part in terms of call-to-actions.
For instance, if you are writing an article on 'productivity hacks,' you can write:
This hack will transform how you work and make high-out effortless.
Complete items on your to-do list faster than ever before.
The good news? You need only five minutes a day to use this productivity hack.
The Second Act (incite action)
This part is used to raise the action. Here you have to attempt to resolve the questions initiated in the first part. You have to resolve the problems, share tips or ideas with your audience because you are an authority, and they turn to you to find the solutions to problems they confront.
Your audience must not only learn new skills but reach a sense of awareness of what they are capable of. You have to help them to deal with their difficulty.
Screenplay writers referred to this part as character development, and this can only be achieved by mentors.
The Third Act (climax/conclusion)
This is the concluding part where you feature the resolution of the article/story. Here you have to put the article's main points and answers to the questions you asked in the beginning. Don't let your readers go without any takeaways. Let your readers depart with new ideas.
2. Express An Action/Entity with a Trio of Persuasive Words
Whenever you want to emphasize an idea or a character, use a combination of three successive or powerful words to structure a sentence. This method holds one of the most highly responsive records where three parallel elements, earthier words or phrases are used in a single sentence to structure a memorable term. These words or phrases are put to complement each other with similar formats and lengths.
- Truth, justice, and the American way – Superman Comic
- Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears - Mark Antony.
- Brevity, clarity, and persuasion – Copywriting
- Capable, flexible, and credible – The Content Unlimited
- Powerful, persuasive, and precise – Business Communication
- Proven, simple, and effective – Any Tip
- We cannot desecrate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.' - President Abraham Lincoln.
- Be sincere, be brief, be seated. - Advice for speakers from Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- 'CITIUS, ALTIUS, FORTIUS' (Faster, Higher, Stronger) - Official Motto of The Olympic Games
3. Focus On the Structure
The next top priority that you must focus on is formatting the cluster of words you plan to use. The number 'three' will only do the magic when you structure the sentence properly and use the right combination of words at the right place.
Once you understand what your audience wants, align it so that you not just concisely deliver your complete message but also engage them throughout the flow of reading or listening.
Create a congruent structure to drive your home ideas that connect readers.
Put harmony in the content by creating lists with similar length and scope. Use bullet points to convey important ideas/tips in a trilogy to make the content more capitating for the audience.
Allow the readers to absorb the information with correct clusters of words, paragraphs, and sentences.
Let them understand your message by putting cadence, rhythm, and balance without any fluff.
4. Creatively Add Repetition With The Rule of Third
If you want your audience to read the full content and go through all the detailed information, make it engaging and interesting.
Let them enjoy instead of just reading.
Repeat a word or sentence to create emphasis and drive home points.
As writers, we often think that repetition can make the content monotonous and dull.
The rule of thirds has the beauty to add a pleasant sense of rhythm in the content, even with repetition.
Using trios in moderation can add weight to your message.
I like this example that Brain Clark from Copy Hackers has used to explain the beauty of repetition.
'In the following portion, for instance, the phrase 'How often' is repeated twice, and 'Life is too short' is repeated thrice.
How often you read content that dazzles and pleases?
How often you really influenced by a blog post?
Life is too short for monotone voices. Life is too short for wishy-washy writing. Life is too short of regurgitating ideas without adding value.
It's time to have fun, infuse your content with your personality, and dazzle your readers with your words.'
5. Make Your Ideas Sticky
'If you want something to stuck in someone's head, put it in a sequence of three.' – Brian Clark.
If you want to make your ideas adhesive for your readers, stick to the rule of three while planning a marketing strategy for a product or a brand identity.
Recall the most iconic sentences in modern history that we all know,
'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' – the declaration of US independence.
'This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.' – Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg address.
'Faith, Hope, and Charity' – Lesson from the Bible
'Veni, Vidi, Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered)' - Latin phrase by Julius Caesar
You see, the leaders used the magical trio of words in all these quotes to drive their points home. Did it work? You bet.
6. Use the Power of Three in Headlines
Headlines are the first thing that fascinates or neglects your readers. Make your headlines powerful with a combination of adjectives, verbs, and nouns.
Here are some excellent examples:
- A Simple Guide to Fixing Your Old, Neglected, and Cracked Content
- How to Stay Healthy, Happy, and Combative in Crucial Times
- 15 Tips for Writing Amazon Product Descriptions that attract, convert, and sell
- How to Start Your writing Business (with No Budget, No Stress, and No Crew)
- The Underused Copywriting Trick That Makes You Powerful, Popular, and Persuasive
- Freelancing Guide That Brings You Clients, Cash, and Credibility
7. Use Three Descriptors in Slogans
If you are tasked with finding a new tagline, introducing a new product, or launching a business, your message will be the most important. Be more mindful of the rule of three and incorporate it into your brand voice.
Do you remember the phrase 'thinner, lighter, and faster' when the Apple iPad 2 was released?
See how Apple has used the Rule of three to make their product memorable with a simple catchphrase.
You can also use this strategy in your work.
Three words are just enough to convey a message without being overwhelming.
Summarize the core purpose of the business/product/service in just three words.
Look for catchy combinations and create engaging, attractive, and killing slogans/taglines/adverts.
Examples of some iconic slogans:
- Delivering Desirable Results – Digital Marketing Agency
- Engineering your dreams – Construction business
- Just Do It – Nike
- Easy, Breezy, Beautiful – Cover Girl
- Obey Your Thirst – Sprite
- Imagination at Work – General Electric
- The Few. The Proud. The Marines. – The U.S Marine Corps
- Let's Go Places – Toyota
- Taste the Rainbow - Skittles
8. Deliver Powerful Presentations
Structure your presentation in three aspects, the start, the middle, and the end. Here your dexterity is required to make your points stand out.
Involve your audience with catchy phrases, bullet pointers, and 3D images to deliver your message.
Adding Triads (a traditional speechwriting technique) in your presentation to add interest. Triads is the art of carefully choosing the order of words and adding a twist to the third element if your third point is the most important.
You can add a humorous twist with this method. For example,
Consider the phrase attributed to both Mark Twain and Benjamin Disraeli:
'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'
You might be expecting the third word as 'white lies,' 'deadly lies,' or even 'agonizing lies' because of the rhyming pattern. But see, the speech person dexterously created a twist in the third element. It shows a punch of humor – the mismatch between expectation and reality.
A humorous take in the presentation is a good technique. It is like a magician trying to distract people with one hand while cleverly finishing the 'trick' with the other.
You can use this pattern in your presentations to distract and consequently magnify the surprise.
Let your audience hippety-hop through the presentation room with a smile on their face.
9. Innovate with the Rule of Three
There is a wisdom in the rule of three that gives you a wide field of vision to see the real scenario with an open mind. The rule of 3 allows you to conquer your limited perspective for a situation and helps you think out of the box.
Philosopher Schopenhauer Said,
'Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.'
So, whenever you encounter any unpleasant task or idea, find some valuable new options by focusing on the following 3 key points that you may have ignored.
- See your blind spots and try to figure out the other side of the story.
- Feed your head with reading, listening, and researching sources from a different perspective where you can see the flicker of certainty. It will increase your range of thinking.
- Review your facts to gain insights by moving out from your normal sphere. Look for the facts instead of your opinions and listen to negative feedback. It will improve your accuracy.
As writers, we always want to create something that excites people, expands their knowledge, and keeps them remembering our write-up long after they’ve devoured the last word.
The Rule of Three not only makes your content engaging and pleasing to read through but can also turbocharge your marketing efforts.
If you have any tips you want to share that relate to the Rule of 3, feel free to share them in the comments section.
Don’t close the window without listening to this beautiful poem on “The magic number 3”