"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." — Hans Hofmann
Edgar Dale, an American Educationist who is most notably known for the development of the "Cone of Experience," found that the average person only remembers about 20 percent of what he or she hears. That means that when you talk to your boss, your colleagues or customers, they are likely to retain less than half of the conversation.
So how do you make sure you get your point across? Entrepreneur and former McKinsey consultant Ameer Ranadive believes the rule of three is what persuades his clients to take action. Ranadive writes, "1. Your argument gets their attention and is memorable, 2. You are forced to choose the three most important reasons, 3. You sound more structured, confident and decisive when you speak."
I use Ranadive's rule of three at work and in my everyday life, so much so that I have developed a reputation among my friends for having an interesting opinion about everything. When they ask, "What do you think about X?" I always answer, "Well, I can tell you three things about X. …" I do this even when I don't know much about whatever X happens to be, but since my ideas are well-structured, they sound smart. Now that my secret is out, use it to your advantage.
THE TAKEAWAY: Any answer, argument or presentation should be built around three facts. Do this and you sound informed but still keep things brief. And don't underestimate the little things — for example,when sending a report in attachment, summarize the most important information first.