• Barbara Roy

3 Reasons Repetition Matters in Business Communications Matters

Updated: Jan 18

When Pastor Marc began his Advent sermon with recitation of lyrics from the famous carol, Silent Night, I marveled at the simplicity of the song structure, for the first time, noting how the most important phrases were repeated. Listening to, or even singing “Silent Night,” to me, was always all about the tone and mood. But, hearing it read aloud struck me differently. Without the musical accompaniment, I focused more on the rhythm of the spoken words. What was a young priest’s observation of a very quiet night, in a winter-laden town in 1816, inspired what became, and was passed down for decades, as heartfelt refrains extolling the wonder of the birth of Jesus Christ.

While repetition is a literary device often employed in the arts, it shouldn’t be discounted in business writing and communications either, especially these days.

Influence and persuasion

Repetition is a favorite tool among speakers for emphasizing points that reinforce a theme. Some may tell you, if you hear a phrase repeated three times, it must be true (epizeuxis and Serial Position Effect), suggesting the “Rule of 3” writing principle may be considered a persuasionary tactic. Writers and speakers also use repetition to create rhythm or cadence.

A stylistic choice

Unoriginality isn’t a crime but, with accelerated trending towards online product research

and buying, remote working and prosumerism, standing out and being heard matters now, more than ever, to businesses. Post Covid, marketers are facing the challenge of how to get in front of their audiences sooner and more effectively to compete for market share. Repetition is redundant, unnecessary, needlessly superfluous and annoying, you say? To that, I say, so what—as long as it’s intentional (got your attention though, didn’t it?) and interesting.

The power of repetition

The power of repetition is in its simplicity. A message heard repeatedly is more likely to resonate in your mind and take residency in your memory. You may be familiar with repetition strategies that get a bad rap, like rote learning or Canter’s “broken record” technique. But one training /teaching technique that is universally accepted and employed is ensuring content appeals to multiple senses and styles of learning to reinforce absorption. Advertisers have picked up on this practice, rebranding it “sensory marketing”.

I guess I like to think the real power of repetition is in magnifying messages that are already important. To repeat invaluable information, that can make a real difference for others, seems justified and appropriate. But to repeat a point for the sole reason of convincing, with no real passion or purpose behind it, would likely be received like the boy who cried wolf too many times—eventually ignored as a cheap trick. So, that makes the caveat to not only use the device sparingly, but also, when you have something to share that bears repeating.

Interestingly but, perhaps not surprisingly, several sources cite “Lord” as the most-repeated word in scriptures.