This is a very important rule as regards giving presentations. By the way, ‘thrice’ means ‘three times’, as ‘twice’ means ‘two times’ – I hoped the word would catch your eye and your interest. However, it is rather an old word, not much used in modern English. Whoever you are giving your presentation to, you will need to repeat important points and, if possible, use different words each time, so any misunderstood word can be replaced by a more familiar one. This is what you must do also if you really need to use technical or other uncommon words. Again, it is back to remembering your audience. Anyway, the main message of your presentation, and any other important points too, need to be repeated.

The presentation itself should be in three parts: introduction, body and summary or conclusion. This ‘rule of three’ works on smaller levels too, so in your introduction the main message should be introduced, expanded on a little and then summarised. In this way, the audience will:

1. Be able to locate the main message.
2. Catch up, if they weren’t paying attention.
3. Remember the message.

All important points should be treated in the same way. A presentation is not like a book, where you can flick back a couple pages when you realise that your mind had wandered off into the forest for a bit. Don’t expect your audience to be totally focused on you all the time. I’ll bet that you have had the same problem when listening to someone else giving a presentation.

We have a lot on our minds these days, and it is rare that we are totally focussed on anything for long. The mind drifts off, you check your watch, then you think about the next appointment and what you should have prepared for it, then you remember the gas bill that needs paying … oh yes, and what did the speaker just say? It sounded important. Don’t have a ‘they should be listening’ attitude – have an ‘I’ll get them to understand if it kills me’ one.

As a presenter, you need to keep a close eye on your audience. Watch out for the glassy eyes of the chap who’s lost his concentration for a moment. Get his attention back and summarise for everyone what you just said. You are giving the presentation, and it is entirely up to you whether the audience gets the message!

Watch out for fidgeting, this person may have lost interest – try and get it back.

Watch out for yawns, they can simply indicate tiredness, but they also show when someone didn’t understand something a short while back. Part of the brain is still back there, analysing and trying to grasp the point, while the rest is trying to focus on the words currently being spoken. It can be as simple as an unfamiliar word – go back and say it in another way.

Watch out for the folded arms of someone who may not agree with your point. You could even politely single them out and ask their opinion. This provides you with another tool to use to repeat your message.

So, remember the rule of three and say it thrice.

This short extract has been taken from my eBookHow to Create and Deliver a Great Presentation“.