Public Speaking Course:
Rule of Three
I teach about the rule of three in my public speaking course. This rule of
three is the most pervasive in creating funny material for your presentation.
The rule of three is used often because it's simple to use, it's powerful and
it works (see I just used it there in a non-funny way). When using the Rule of
Three in a humorous way, your first comment names the topic, the second sets a
pattern, and the third suddenly switches the pattern, making it funny.
Here are some examples from my seminar advertising brochures.
In the "How to Get There" part;
* By Metro take the Red line . . .
* By Car take New York Ave. . . .
* By Steamship take the Chesapeake Bay
* From Washington, D.C. take Rt. 50 . . .
* From Baltimore, MD take Rt. 95 . . .
* From Bangkok, Thailand board Asian Air . . .
A cute and funny way to involve the audience using the rule of three is to
point to an audience member and say "You can make a difference in your
[Pointing to the next person] You can make a difference in your
[Pointing to third fun person] You can [pause] Well not everyone can do
Three jokes or one-liners on one topic is enough to get the audience going,
but not enough to bore them on that subject. Remember from your public speaking
course, that the Rule of Three is good in non-funny situations too. Even Old Abe
Lincoln used it twice in the powerful, but short, Gettysburg Address: "We
cannot dedicate. We cannot consecrate. We cannot hallow this ground"; and
that "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not
perish from the earth."