I was helping someone with his personal elevator speech (or 30-second commercial, if you prefer) and after working through his headline image (he now “plugs leaky buckets” rather than retaining base sales), we started talking about the supporting information that demonstrates how he plugs leaky buckets.
Now the Rule of Three is nothing new when it comes to communications. Google the phrase and you get 152 million hits (really). Peter Bregman recently wrote about it in a different context in his weekly Harvard Business blog, and Copyblogger Founder Brian Clark explains the history in a great blog from back in 2007.
I use the three-legged stool to help remember my three points. If you use it as a lead-in to your explanation, it’s also memorable for the person you’re talking to.
As a credit card executive, we used the three-legged stool with a number of audiences to outline our approach to student lending — Fair Price, Treatment, and Financial Literacy (Education) — with additional detail under each. Quick and memorable, and something our alumni-association partners could use when explaining it to their school administrations or the press. And it was tailor-made for reporters who need to provide their readers with context.
This works with any type of communication where you have a thesis and supporting details. Presentations. Talking points for the media. Job interviews.
Where will you use the three-legged stool next?