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QuickBites: How to Use Transitions So Your Audience Can Follow You Throughout Your Presentations

Does it drive you crazy when the car in front of you takes an abrupt turn without using a turn signal? If you’re like most people, it does.


Why couldn’t they turn on the signal? The lever’s right there. It’s incredibly easy to use. And for something so simple, it provides a significant benefit to them and the people behind them.


And what about you? Do you use your turn signals? Not those on your car but those in your presentations — the turn signals we refer to as transitions.


Unfortunately, just like drivers often forget to use their turns signals, speakers often forget to insert transitions.


When a driver doesn’t use their turn signal, the person behind them may get annoyed. But when a speaker doesn’t use transitions, the audience may get lost, confused, and possibly annoyed as well. In any case, it’s not good.
So, how should you use transitions? Well, any time you switch from one item to another, insert a transition. This could be as simple as:

  • Next …
  • Another example is …
  • Therefore


And, if you set up your first talking point with “first,” you can list the following talking points with “second,” “third,” “last,” and so on.


Now that you’ve heard how easy it is to use simple transitions that guide your audience from one talking point to another, you’re going to learn about a slightly more sophisticated transition. This one arguably provides even greater benefits to your audience. It’s called the flashback transition.


When moving from one talking point to another, you say something to the effect of, well, what you just heard me say. “Now that you’ve heard how A does this, you’re going to learn how X does that.”


In essence, the flashback transition sums up what your audience just heard and why it matters. It then gives a glimpse into the next talking point and the benefit it provides.


Another kind of transition is the concluding transition. This one is like the flashback transition on steroids and is used to lead to your compelling conclusion.


Let’s say that you had three talking points. When it comes time to bridge your last talking point to your conclusion, you want to remind your audience what they learned and the corresponding benefits and then restate their takeaway. It could go something like this, “Now that you know how A does this, B does that, and C offers this benefit, you can accomplish XYZ.” Then, you go directly into your conclusion.


So there are the three kinds of transition:

  • The simple transition: It’s easy to use and helps your audience follow you as you move on to your next point.
  • The flashback transition: It’s a little more involved but yields even greater benefits to your audience.
  • The concluding transition. It sums up your various talking points and the benefits they provide.


Now, you’re able to use them in ways that make it easier for your audiences to follow you and your presentations.


If you haven’t been using your turn signals, I suggest you start so you can make it more likely that your audiences will walk away with the benefits and takeaways you had intended for them.