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The Triple

 

Techniques General persuasion > Using repetition > The Triple

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Use three related words or phrases to grab attention, encapsulate, summarize.

This can be three single words, three phrases or three complete sentences.

The three items can be any three items that fit together to make an impact, including:

  • The same item each time, hammering home the point.
  • Three key themes that together cover a wide area.
  • Three items that act in sequence to get to a desired goal.
  • Two problems and a solution that resolves the problem.
  • Two actions or objectives and a solution that will result from achieving these.

The three items can be connected in by a rising or reducing pitch for each one. Going up increases emotion, going down closed on finality and certainty.

Example

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. (Mark Anthony)

One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready now go cat, go! (Carl Perkins - Blue Suede Shoes)

Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer (One people, one country, one leader - Nazi slogan)

Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit (German national motto - 'Unity and Justice and Freedom')

Our objectives are clear: Saddam Hussein's forces will leave Kuwait. The legitimate government of Kuwait will be restored to its rightful place, and Kuwait will once again be free. (George Bush, Snr, 1990)

There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith in our Democracy in what is happening here tonight. (L.B.Johnson -- 'we shall overcome' speech, 1965)

Discussion

The number three is interesting in speech as we easily remember three things, but beyond this it becomes progressively more difficult to remember. Three items thus act as a powerful unison.

Because listeners often expect a triple, a speaker can sometimes go beyond three things to four, five or more to emphasize the importance of an issue.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty. (J.F.Kennedy, Inaugural address, 1961)

See also

Repetition principle, Motto, Tricolon, Syllogisms

 

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