When telling stories or constructing breaks on the air, the storytelling Rule of 3 can be a great tool. Not many personalities use the technique. Or if they do, they don’t do it intentionally. But once you know about it and work at it a little, it will sharpen breaks, content and stories.
The “Rule of Three” is a common marketing and writing technique. It’s a strategy to attract attention in media and public relation. It also works in writing and content creation.
- It applies to comedy (a priest, a rabbi and a horse walk into a bar…).
- Pastors and preachers use it to deliver a three-point sermon.
- It’s in movies building toward a dramatic payoff.
There’s a cadence that attracts and compels audiences.
You hear the principle in effective advertising messages as well:
- Snap! Crackle! Pop! (Rice Krispies)
- Life Is Good (LG)
- Real. Comfortable. Jeans. (Wranglers)
Three is a magic number. You see it in all walks of life:
- Three branches of government.
- Strength of a three sided object (a triangle).
- In religion: The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
If you pay attention, you’ll recognize the pattern everywhere. For example, knock-knock jokes apply the rule of three and principle of 1-2-3 bam:
- Knock Knock (premise). Who’s there?
- Canoe (Advance it). Canoe who?
- (Pay Off) Canoe help me with my homework?
The Rule of 3 works because humans are conditioned to respond to a rhythmic pattern of three things. That’s why pastors are taught to deliver a three-point sermon. Or a public speaker is coached to deliver three main points in a presentation. Audiences have a hard time remembering more than three things.
But the Rule of 3 goes deeper than that.