Many presentation coaches and public speaking books will tell you that if you want to make your presentations better, you need to narrow down your speech to three points. They continue to tell you how to go whittling your talking points to a maximum of three and state that in doing so, you will have a simplified presentation guaranteed for success. This method is known as the Rule of Three, and although I agree with utilizing threes, it does not simplify your message.
Here is the critical problem with the Rule of Three – if this is the only attempt to simplify your message, then you risk talking in jargon and high vocabulary that your audience doesn’t understand. Most industries, even the ones you don’t consider to be technical, have a deep vocabulary that consists of jargon, industry acronyms, and vocabulary understood only by those in your industry already. You do not sell to your colleagues and other professionals within your industry, so this misses the task. Your audience, which includes prospective and existing clients, gets frustrated when they are not able to speak the same language you do. Merely whittling down your list to three points can easily include three complicated, not simplified, explanations that most listeners do not understand.
Let me elaborate with an example. ASL, or American Sign Language, is a readily accepted method of communication among the deaf. I have begun learning ASL while striving to teach my family a second language. As I continue the lesson, I will become more comfortable to speak with others who also understand ASL. If I attempt to speak to my clients and listeners only with ASL, they will not understand me, even if I utilize the Rule of Three. I may as well be speaking gibberish because someone would need proper schooling to learn to understand ASL.
Your industry, and even your company, has a unique language only understood by those in the know. Your clients don’t have any time or willingness to learn your language, and they get irritable when you attempt to talk using your unique industry or company language.
Your audience, including clients and prospects, as well as anybody who calls with questions, is counting on your and your company’s ability to simplify the explanation to a point that they understand. That may require leaving out some parts that do not matter and discussion more basic elements to create a foundation.
You may find that narrowing down your presentation to three different talking points is too much. You may find that you need to include three different explanations to describe a single thing in your presentation. If that is what it takes to prove that you are the expert on the subject, then it’s what you need to do for your audience. In doing so, you gain trust and business from your presentations; that’s what makes them successful and profitable presentations.
Remember the Rule of Three is a good method to organizing your presentations, but it does not mean your content is simplified for your audience to comprehend your message.
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