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Get Organized

May 13, 2022

I’ve always been an organized person. Appointments go right onto my calendar. I keep close track of service work for my car. And at the end of the day, I put my keys, my wallet, and my phone in the same spot. The exact same spot.   

Too much? Maybe. 

But when it comes to delivering a speech or presentation, organization is crucial. In fact, it’s one of the six steps our training team at Wixted & Company recommends when kicking off a speaking opportunity.

After you’ve thanked your audience, established common ground, stated your main message, and highlighted your credentials and qualifications, the next step in your 90 second open is organization.

Not to be confused with your main message, the organization step is a brief summary – just a single phrase or sentence – for each segment of your presentation. It’s a verbal outline for your audience. Like a roadmap that previews where you’ll be going and what your audience can expect to hear.

Following the advice of Aristotle, we recommend dividing the organization step into three parts because audiences are good at remembering things in threes. Now I’m no philosopher, but I am smart enough to know that if you veer off and cover more than three parts, chances are you’ll start to lose us. And don’t share too much of your good stuff in this step. There will be plenty of time to talk details and tell your story after the 90 second open.

From there, you’re just one simple but key step away from that deeper dive -- a short phrase like “Let’s begin” or “Let’s get started.” This will serve as a cue to your audience that you’re done with your intro and that it’s time to dig in.

One more piece of advice. When you’ve wrapped up your 90 second open, avoid the temptation to ask your audience, “Are there any questions before I continue?” Save that for the end, so that no one has the chance to derail your well-organized presentation.

Now where did I put my keys?                  


By: Jeff Johnson

Jeff is a former television anchor and reporter for CBS and ABC affiliates in the Midwest.  In those roles, Jeff has covered state and national events, including the World Series and the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  He has interviewed former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, football great Walter Payton, and baseball legend Bob Feller. Jeff has produced and directed for the Kansas City Royals, Iowa State University, and the PGA Tour.  Jeff earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State University, and he minored in Psychology.