How the Rule of Threes can help accountants FOCUS! on communication and presentation skills
Heirarchical memory and the Rule of Threes is the science behind the FOCUS! Method of communicating clearly and effectively
TORONTO, June 18, 2018 – Mark Twain once said, “There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” For accounting and finance professionals, who are often called upon to deliver impromptu analysis and prepared presentations, strong communication and public speaking skills are absolutely critical to advancement in your career.
The FOCUS!® Method, taught by Commanding Presence, provides a way to “say less, and say it better” in all occasions — in meetings, interviews, one-on-one, and presentations with large audiences. It enables you to organize complex thoughts and ideas effectively, and then quickly deliver them in a way that is designed to be heard, remembered, and persuasive.
It gives you a simple format to start, navigate, and end your message with, and therefore allows you to speak “off the cuff” about topics in which you are the expert. When you use this method, your anxiety will be significantly reduced, if not eliminated altogether.
Why does the FOCUS! Method work?
The science behind the FOCUS! Method is the Rule of Threes and the use of hierarchical memory. The combination of the two creates a unifying theme that relates to all the key points in threes, which are easy to recall and easy to navigate.
The Rule of Threes is simple: the best way to structure things is in groups of threes, because psychologists and neuroscientists tell us that our sensory memory can hold one to seven pieces of information, but our favorite number is three. Think of your phone number — 10 random numbers are tough. But 3 sets of numbers are easy!
So how can we apply this to making our speeches more memorable? Well, first we must acknowledge and embrace the fact that our listeners are likely to only remember three things from our presentation. Therefore, it’s critical that we are intentional about what these three things are.
When you create the content of your speech, develop a “headline” message, and three key sub-points, along with three simple supporting facts for each sub-points. The key is that you never ask listeners to remember more than the headline and these three clearly-stated key points.
This combination of simplicity and repetition allows your audience to process the information and transfer it from working memory into long-term memory.
How does the FOCUS! Method work?
The FOCUS!® Method ensures that before you begin to speak you will:
• Know exactly what your first statement will be.
• Know what you will say to finish.
• Know precisely which aspects of your topic you are going to cover.
First, tell listeners what your key point (“headline”) is and identify the three sub-points (in three concise sentences) you intend to address. This provides the listener with a mental “map” or preview of what you are going to say. Furthermore, it immediately increases the listener’s attention by eliminating doubts about your position, how long you will speak, and which areas you will cover.
Second, address each of your sub-points, speaking spontaneously and in a conversational style.
Third, finish by repeating your headline and sub-points. This is the imprinting part; you imprint the message in your listeners by stating, validating and reiterating.
If you were to use the Focus! Method to answer a question, you would clarify and restate the question if necessary, then choose your headline. You would then write down or think of your three sub-points and deliver your headline and three points. Remember to speak spontaneously to each point and recap your headline and three points.
In the video below, Commanding Presence instructor John Plank discusses how to organize information so it can be effectively retained and communicated:
Where can you learn the FOCUS! Method?
The Focus! Method is just one of the transformational units in our two-day, Commanding Presence: Advanced Communication & Presentation Skill Workshops. Participants will get a chance to create their own Focus! Method presentations using current topics or issues, and practise delivering them to other participants. We record the presentations and provide 360-degree feedback.
Limited to only 10 participants, each person receives all the personal coaching, exercises, practice and video feedback they require to learn effective speaking skills in a comfortable and supportive learning environment. After the course, participants will be able to:
• Speak with more confidence and authority in all business and social environments.
• Manage personal stress and communicate effectively under pressure.
• Quickly prepare memorable and persuasive text.
• Deliver concise and compelling formal presentations to small and large groups.
• Establish rapport with different personality types: persuade and influence with integrity.
• Develop an individual and natural speaking style.
• "Think on your feet": respond quickly and eloquently to questions and enquiries in meetings, on the telephone, and in presentations.
Commanding Presence seminars are accredited by CPA Canada and qualify for 16 CPD hours. Information about upcoming workshops, content outlines and agendas can be found at commandingpresence.com.
John Doucette is the chief executive officer of Commanding Presence Inc.