Speaking: The magic of three

Speaking: Effective presentations: the magic of three
Intermediate to higher level (B1-C1)

Have you ever stopped and wondered why some presentations and talks feel much better than others?

Often, one of the main reasons is the use of threes. Just think about how the most effective political speeches are constructed. They are usually built around the number three: typically three examples are given for each main point, and three adjectives are used for emphasis.

Why is the number three so effective? It is hard to say for sure but we seem to like to group things into threes:

saying telephone numbers e.g. 059 325 463
ABC, 123, Do-Re-Mi
Any Tom, Dick or Harry

In a presentation, you can use the magic of three to organise your talk:

  • three parts – introduction, main body, conclusion/summary
  • break main section in three parts and give three examples for each one
  • on each¬†slide show three sections¬†or give three examples
  • give powerful descriptions or analyses by using three adjectives

This way your presentation has more chance of being persuasive, compelling and memorable!

For an example of how the magic of three is used, you can watch this video of a Rhodes Scholar (Oxford) giving a TEDx talk on why our expectations affect our happiness:
‘The Expectation Gap’ by Nat Ware