Speakers and preachers often denigrate the “three point” message. But there is a reason this idea took hold. Nearly everyone can remember three key points. This is particularly true if the points relate to each other, build upon one another, and are clearly connected.

Ideally, a three-point message or speech provides a logical progression of ideas, something like, A + B = C.

When a message has three distinct and only nominally related points, you should be able to answer this question: “If my hearers remember only one thing from this talk it should be . . .” Or, “What is the one thing I hope will change about people after they’ve heard my message?”

Think of that one thing as something your audience will take with them when they leave your talk, the idea or conviction that will stick with them long after. Your sermon, message, or talk will be more compelling if you concentrate on the one thing (or at most the two or three things).

Simple and straightforward is far more effective and memorable in public speech than complex and convoluted. Read or recall public speeches that were powerful and memorable, and you’ll notice that nearly all of them are centered on one distinct idea or one compact theme.

“Less is more” when it comes to the points you are trying to make as a speaker. Your talks will be more effective and will have greater impact if you focus on one central idea and give your hearers a simple, straightforward takeaway.

Get more tips for effective public speaking in my new book, Speaking Well: Essential Skills for Speakers, Leaders, and Preachers.


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