'WRITING.' It’s a word that can evoke strong feelings of angst and emotional turmoil.
It can rouse feelings of dread even if you’re a seasoned professional, or literary scholar. In some cases, a full blown panic-attack.
It can trigger dark memories from comments made on your Year 8 English report: "Room for improvement”…“Reads more like a plot than a story”…“Ben has a tendency to daydream.” Hang on.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can reduce the anxiety of writing for your business, or career, just by putting some structure into your work. And you can do that using the Rule of Three.
Three Billy Goats Gruff
This was one of my favourite childhood stories as a kid.
“Trip, trap, trip, trap. Who’s that tripping over my bridge?” The plot…“Eat-me-when-I’m-fatter”.
The story ends with the third bigger goat flying at the troll on the bridge, poking his eyes out with his horns, and crushing him to “bits, body and bones.” And finally kicking him off the bridge into the river.
Now there’s a bedtime you won’t forget. You know the one. And probably many other as well…
Even artists and designers use the rule of thirds—derived from the Golden Mean or Golden Ratio—for composition.
Most of the time it is just self-evident. Like a natural law.
Four items seems to be one too many for people to hold in their memory. But a proposal, a report, or any other piece of business writing feels inadequate when it’s supported by only one or two points.
So How Can You Put It To Use in Your Writing?
Well, you can start by writing down your three main points as full sentences BEFORE YOU START WRITING. And spell out your logic as clearly as you can.
This way you’ll force yourself to think through your reasons for recommending a vendor, for example, or pitching an offer to a client—and you’ll make a stronger case.
If you try to ‘feel’ things out as you write then you’ll get lost. You won’t know yet what you’re hoping your reader will think or do.
You’ll carry on and on, gradually clarifying your point as you make several runs at it. A few of my aunties come to mind here :)
In the end, after multiple attempts, you may finally figure out what it is you want to say. But you probably won’t say it in a way that you’re reader can follow.
An Example of Finding Your Focus
Let’s say your name is Dot, and you work at a large earth moving business. Your boss, Bob, owns the business and is considering acquiring a 1000-square-foot industrial premise at 427 Burke Lane as the new HQ.
Bob has asked you to think through the logistics. This requires writing up your list of recommendations before the company makes an offer to purchase the new building.
PANIC! No don’t panic.
BEFORE you write your memo, put your crazy person face on and brainstorm a list of considerations:
Bob’s Responsibilities (before acquisition):
It can also take a bit of legwork and sniffing around—for example, talking to similar companies that have recently moved.
Can’t find any such companies? Then think outside the box. A commercial real estate agent will know someone who has.
For each stage above, you can see we have listed three important considerations.
Now Look at How Easy it is to Begin Writing Your Memo…
Re: Possible Purchase of 240 Burke Lane
Date: February 20, 2018
As requested, I’ve thought through the logistics of purchasing and moving into the Burke Lane property. Here are my suggestions for each stage of the process.
I’d like your approval to tackle the following tasks immediately because they’ll give us a more complete picture of how expensive the acquisition and move would be:
While I’m attending to the details above, you may want to:
Phew. Heart rate back at rest. No panic attack required. No need to hide in the toilets looking at your Facebook account.
You can see that PRE-WRITING in three lines paved the way for a clear, useful memo. It helped prevent writer’s block, organise the material, and make concise, well thought out recommendations.
A Three Bullet Point Summary…
If you’d like a 30 Minute Consultation on how to you can use the Rule of Three more effectively in your business then please get in touch with me—contact details below.
You might need a website re-write, a landing page, an email, an important memo or business plan drafted. The list is endless in the Information Age. Let me help you stand out from the crowd and stop walking the tightrope of language.
If you’d just like to connect and say hello then please do so via firstname.lastname@example.org or call me direct on +61 403 757 226. I love nothing more than hearing about other people’s entrepreneurial exploits or career ambitions.