Three is better than four – and Navy Seals know it best. There were 3 little piggies, 3 musketeers. There is even Holy Trinity. So my conclusion would obviously be to strongly advice you grouping your information in three. But I refrain from giving advice based solemnly on my opinion only or… common sense which only sometimes makes sense. So I’ve decided to investigate on why three is and should be your lucky number.
The rule of three pervades every aspect of our communication, business and social lives. The above mentioned three little pigs, three musketeers, three wishes granted to Aladdin. There are three primary colours and three secondary ones. We have three Newton laws and three pieces of cutlery. Three wise men gave three gifts to baby Jesus (who himself is part of a three element deal – the Holy Trinity). Obama won with Yes, we can. Three words indeed. And I think we can agree that three letter brands are kind of cool: IMB, UPS, DHL, CNN.
Liberté, fraternité, égalité
Yes, indeed – three is more satisfying than any other number. And that is a lesson to learn. And once you learn it, apply it. If you do not however trust your instincts and need hardcore proof – why not do as the Marines do. Those guys have tested that the best possible teams to operate consist of three. Contemporary scientists state that the number of items we can easily recall in short-term memory is three. Think about it. You chunk mobile phone numbers into three, right?
Three parts of the story
Take opera – three acts! So why not try dividing your presentations into similar three acts. I do it very often. First, the intro – big idea that shows the context, then the problem (hell is real) and… solution. Actually all great TED presentations are based on a rule of third. Neil Pasricha’s TEDx talk was adequately titled The 3 A’s of Awesome. Not only dividing the presentation made it easier for him to practice and remember, but it also made it a hell lot easier for the audience to remember.
Next time you present case studies – use three case studies. When you dig into the problem part in your presentation, list 3 problems. And mirror them with a three part solution. When you tell user stories, do like Cindy Wu does, mentioning, well… you guessed it. Three stories. And remember three words say it best – I love you.