“The Rule of Seventeen” – If you Want to Get Your Message Across & Accepted, Repeat, and Repeat and…..

Every semester, I go over the masterpiece I Have a Dream in great detail.  I give each student a copy of the text of Dr. King’s speech, and then together we circle key phrases all the way through to the end.  One obvioius characteristic of the speech just jumps out at every student – he kept repeating key phrases, over and over again.  “Now is the time…”; “I have a dream…”; “We are not satisfied…”; and a number of others.

There is a key truth underlying this practice.  We are slow to learn.  No, slow to learn isn’t strong enough.  We are slow to even pay attention.

Ed Savage, EdD, is Manager MID Training & Development at L-3 in Greenville, and a regular participant in the First Friday Book Synopsis.  He is full of wisdom and insight on a host of topics.  Recently, we were discussing just how difficult it is to get a message really heard throughout an organization.  (and, yes, within a family, and anywhere else messages matter).  He told me of “The Rule of Seventeen:  Communicating the Change Message Requires 17 Repetitions.”  Though aimed specifically at communicating a message of change throughout an organization, it applies to all communication challenges.  This rule states that one must repeat a message 17 times to get it through, fully accepted, and then acted upon by a listener.  When I heard it, it immediately made sense.

(And, I might add, after the 17th time, there will still need to be something of a refresher/reminder every now and then…  The communication task is never quite finished).

He first heard this from Naomi Sullivan of St Anthony’s, and then he refined it a bit.  And he has given me permission to share this on our blog.  Thanks, Ed.  This is valuable!

So, here it is – “The Rule of Seventeen.” Click on the image, print it out, and re-read it at least seventeen times yourself — and then, start repeating those key messages over and over and over and over ….again.

Click on image for full, printable view.

2 thoughts on ““The Rule of Seventeen” – If you Want to Get Your Message Across & Accepted, Repeat, and Repeat and…..

  1. Pingback: Links To Go (May 12, 2015) | Tim Archer's Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts

  2. Marty Eskenazi

    Wow great stuff Randy, this is so true. Sort of like in handling objections a no doesnt mean a no it typically means i need additional information.


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