The “Three Second” Rule

The “Three Second” Rule Banner

How to get your message across quickly and effectively

No, we are not talking about food on the floor (that is the 5-second rule anyway), we are talking about effective design and layout for large format graphics!

What makes an effective graphic for trade show exhibits? Over the years I have seen a variety of answers to this challenge.   Some are effective, and some that have missed the mark.  When discussing this exact topic with my peers, it occurred to me that the answer can be found by simply driving on the freeway

Chances are that over the years you have noticed few billboards scattered across the maze of cars on the way to your destination.  Only a few of them really grab your attention, and even fewer if you are exceeding the speed limit!- really think about it.  You have about three seconds to absorb the bulk of the information before you zoom past the billboard or focus your eyes on the road ahead. The same principle of attention can be applied to your exhibit graphics.

When the exhibit floor is the highway, and the (maze) is the attendees and traffic, your messaging needs to follow this three-second rule!  Interrupt and engage your potential client with effective wording and imagery in the shortest amount of time possible.

Those billboards that do grab your attention get their targeted message and branding across quickly!  (Can you think of a memorable one?)  Others that are saturated with details, and massive amounts of small type seems to really go by with you catching only partial understanding of what their marketing intentions really were.  (I know that sometimes, the content is king, but to get attendees to recall the content, you must grab their attention first).

So, keep your eyes on the road ahead and keep your exhibit graphics within the 3-second rule. You will be pleasantly surprised with the results!

I happen to like the 3-second rule for food too! (it gives me two extra seconds from the benchmark).

Matt Smith

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