“What do you do?”
When I first began my communication coaching business, that question terrified me. It wasn’t because I had nothing to say. Quite the opposite . . . I had PLENTY to say, and that was the problem.
As with any new venture, it takes a while even to figure out what you WANT to do, let alone what you CAN do. So, I used to hedge my bets and rattle off a list of services and offerings, hoping I’d hit on something that might be of interest to the person who asked the question. But rather than enlightening, I’m sure I confounded with my circuitous rambling . . . or what I now call “verbal drool.”
How did I mop up my verbal drool? I started applying the Rule of Three.
The Rule of Three forces you to cull your information down into three main points, not two, not four . . . three. It simply requires you to think and communicate in triplicate in order to deliver your messages concisely and clearly.
For example, now when I am asked, “What do you do?” this is my response:
“I’m a confidence creator. I help clients speak with ease to any audience across any platform—in person, on camera, or through virtual communication tools.”
My three points are:
1. I help clients speak with ease . . .
2. To any audience. . .
3. Across any platform . . .
- In person
- On camera
- Or through virtual communication tools
See, you can even have sub-points in threes!
Granted, this is a very basic version of what I do, but I recognized that I needed to create mental buckets for my audience. They’re not looking for a deep dive into the finer points of my communication curriculum, but I do want them to have a general understanding of what I can provide.
I could tell them all about how I conduct training in group settings as well as one-on-one sessions. I could tell them about my three-pronged approach to presentation excellence. I could tell them about my client list, even citing specific examples. Heck, this could be an hour-long monologue. But they’d remember very little of it.
My goal is to pique their interest and have them come away with a basic awareness of what Speaker Dynamics is all about. If they want to know more, they’ll ask after they digest my initial burst of information.
Limiting Verbal Drool
Helping clients to eliminate their own verbal drool has become a passion of mine and one of the main reasons “Alex” came to me.
Alex was the president of a prominent business incubator, but when anyone asked him what the incubator did, he found it nearly impossible to break it down. Instead, he opted to include as much information as he could to try to add clarity. His approach had the opposite effect, of course. The more he tried to explain, the more confusing the answer became.
We worked together to strip away the complexity and developed a list of three key talking points that concisely described what the incubator provided in its own unique way. The process itself went beyond clarity of communication; it provided clarity of purpose because it forced him to examine what role he hoped the incubator would play in the start-up community.
Alex had the opportunity to give the Rule of Three a test run during an on-camera interview a short time later. Two minutes of TV time is an eternity, so his ramblings would never have been sound-bite friendly. Thanks to the Rule of Three, he was able to hit the highlights with confidence and none of them ended up on the cutting room floor.
You too can prevent verbal drool by thinking in terms of the Rule of Three and then applying the rule to your on-camera messages . . . and all messaging for that matter. On your mark, get set, go! (Yet another example of the power of three!)
Learn More: On-Camera Coach
If you found this information valuable, check out my book, On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, now available from Wiley Publishing. On-Camera Coach aims to take the mystery out of communicating through the camera and provides specific tips and techniques that can make your message sing—and you, the messenger, feel confident in a job well done.