Three times? No thank you, thank you, thank you.

I spent most of last week at the Infusionsoft conference, ICON17. I loved hearing so many presenters talk about the importance of storytelling and emotional connection. Yes, even at a tech conference. But a couple of the folks onstage exhibited a strange rhetorical tic: They said things three times.

One strode out on stage the first day and said, “Welcome, welcome, welcome.” The next day a speaker offered us the opportunity to support to Mentor International, a fine organization that offers micro loans and mentoring to budding entrepreneurs in developing nations. After a pause for us to whip out our smart phones and donate, the speaker said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

So here’s the problem. First, the delivery: the third “welcome” or “thank you” was identical to the first. Same tone, same physicalization, same level of engagement. If they had ramped up the intensity with each thank you, I might have bought it. Maybe. But I’d still have a problem with the repetition, because…

Three times not “the charm”

Repeating things doesn’t make them more true. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. Think back to when you were a teenager and a parent caught you in a lie. You protested your innocence, of course. Did you do it more than once? I rest my case.

A single “welcome” or “thank you” would be perfectly adequate if it were authentic and emotionally connected. But say you have a speaker who’s a little wooden. He could be the nicest man on the face of the earth when you’re talking with him one-on-one, but put him on stage in front of 2,000 people and he reverts to a scared 3rd grader delivering an oral book report. No shame in that—we’ve all been there.

In a case like that, the speech needs to help clue the audience in on the emotion the speaker wants to express. But repeating the same word is not going to get you there. Find some other words that expand on the idea of “welcome” or “thank you” and build a sentence or two.

“Welcome! My team and I are so glad you’re here.”

Or, better yet

“My team and I have been working on this event since the day after the last one ended, so I am absolutely thrilled to be able to say—finally—Welcome to ICON 17!”

Notice the difference there? When you’re welcoming someone, “welcome” doesn’t have to be the first word out of your mouth. But if it is, please don’t let it be the second and third as well.


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Also published on Medium.

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