It’s the one bit of communications advice we’ve all heard:

‘Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em…
then actually tell ‘em…
then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.’

I’ve always hated that approach but I can’t argue with the psychology:

Repetition works.

The trick is to be repetitive without sounding repetitive.

Barack Obama repeated the line ‘Yes We Can’ (six times) at the end of each sentence until his audience did the repeating for him. That’s an old rhetorical technique called Epistrophe, the exact same trick his hero JFK used with ‘Let Them Come to Berlin’ (four times).

Martin Luther King preferred Anaphora (repeat at the beginning of each line) and even though he used the phrase ‘I Have a Dream’ eight times no-one has ever got sick of hearing him say it. Then or since.

He knew his audience had to follow his ideas without getting lost.
He knew they needed something to hang on to.
He knew his core message had to be simple yet powerful.

But Dr King liked to mix things up with a little Anadiplosis (repeat at both ends) ‘Men hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate’.

Repetition works.

It works at the start of a line.
It works at the end of a line.
It works at both ends at once.

So long as it doesn’t sound like repetition, repetition works.

See what I did there?

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Written by Jason Clarke

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Celebrated author, adventurer, gold medal Olympian and popular TV chef; Jason is none of these things. He is, however, one of the most sought-after creative minds in the country. As founder of Minds at Work, he’s helped people ‘think again’ since the end of the last century, working with clients across Australia in virtually every industry and government sector on issues ranging from creativity and trouble shooting to culture change and leadership.