Effective business presenters limit their topics to three simple subjects because the human brain can only remember up to seven pieces of information.
The late Steve Jobs limited almost all of his presentations to three subjects for easier recall. This could be seen in his introduction of the iPhone in 2007 as Apple’s “third product category” (with the Macintosh and iPod as the first two).
This rule goes beyond stating three facts and expounding on them. Think of your pitch as the brand you’ll advertise to your clients. According to InterBrand group chief executive Chuck Brymer, before you can even begin to establish the three subjects, you need to fulfill three requirements among the notable qualities of great brands:
A Compelling Idea
Successful brands capture a customer’s attention and loyalty because they fill a need that people struggle with.
In the 2007 iPhone introduction, Steve Jobs announced that his company was reinventing the phone. Putting the iPod with the dial-wheel image aside, it was a compelling idea that immediately hooked everyone. According to Jobs, all smartphones at that time had fixed keypads and relied on a stylus. The iPhone only needed a touch screen to operate and had the competitors’ enhanced capabilities.
This was the reinvention that he pitched and elaborated. From a presenter’s perspective, having this kind of idea will form a foundation for your three points to build themselves later on.
A Core Purpose and Supporting Points
What does your brand promise and how will it deliver? The Apple iPhone was made as a reinvention, but it was also supported by three distinct capabilities: those of the iPod, the phone, and an internet communicator, all with an easy-to-use interface.
Regardless of the product and the intended customers, this second attribute remains consistent. Once you establish these factors, use your supporting points as your information for the three-subject rule.
An Organizational Principle
How do you organize your PowerPoint to deliver your pitch? While brands use this attribute as levers for their business decisions, it allows presenters determine two things:
- If the presentation techniques are in line with their idea’s purpose or not
- If the presentation style will leave a positive impression on their audience
These will determine whether your pitch will sell or not. The trick is to maintain an appropriate speech tone and keep your PowerPoint’s content and design consistent.
Planning your pitch can spell the difference between an approved proposal and a rejected one. Clients need to remember enough of your presentations to consider investing in it. Define what your idea is, what you want to do with it and how you want to show it. Use these three attributes to stay consistent with your topic.
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“Applying the Rule of Three to Your Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 5, 2014. Accessed May 12, 2015.
Brymer, Chuck. “WHAT MAKES BRANDS GREAT?” Marketing Magazine. Accessed May 12, 2015.
Steve Jobs introduces iPhone in 2007. YouTube. Accessed May 12, 2015.