EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Have you ever wondered why so many things are structured in threes?

In addition to the three Musketeers mentioned above, we eat 3 meals a day. Why not 2 or 4? We use threes in art to define structures like primary, secondary and tertiary colors on a color wheel. Nature is filled with threes: Land, sea, and air. In baseball, there are three strikes and you are out, three outs to an inning, and a trinity of trinities (3X3), in other words, 9 innings. Coincidence?

And, for us accounting types, the three principal ways of organizing a business are: as a sole proprietorship, as a partnership, or as a corporation.

With all the threes common in the world, it sort of makes you wonder why we typically don’t harness this concept when developing our 90-second announcements. I think the major reason is that us financial types are very complicated people. It is our firm belief that everything about our background is of interest to our listener. (If only this were true.) We get so involved in the explanation of our work history that we often fail to notice eyes glazing over.

One of our Associate Members and communication coaches, Debbie Fay (DFay@bespeakpresentations.com), who has spoken at our meeting in Westport several times, does a demonstration of the folly of trying to communicate too many points by utilizing 5 beach balls. It is easy enough, of course, to pick up one beach ball. Even two isn’t all that difficult. Three starts getting a little tricky. 4 is possible but very borderline. When you try to pick up the 5th ball, you end up dropping ALL 5 balls. (Fortunately they are beach balls, and even if they land on your toes they won’t do any damage. I’m sure this is the reason Debbie doesn’t do this demonstration with bowling balls.)

Anyway, the point is that your 90-second announcement needs to be a work of art, built around the rule of threes. What are your 3 major points? If you are expecting your listener to remember more than three points, you are kidding yourself. I know you understand your background, but your goal is to ensure that others do as well. Hey, I’m a simple guy, and sometimes it is hard to remember even one thing about you. (Just kidding. I have always found you so interesting that you can rattle on for hours and I will keep listening.)

The rule in public speaking is: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.” (See, another rule of threes.)

If you can identify the three most important things about you, all you have to do is come up with the words to wrap around them. Stories are actually woven around themes.

I know we would all like to live in a world where the attention span was greater, but that is unlikely to happen. We live on Internet time, where iPhones, texting and twitter scream for our attention.

Learn to focus on what’s important and if you meet the three Musketeers, perhaps they will be able to remember what you do and share that knowledge with others.

Regards, Matt

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