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How to Use Transitions Effectively
By Lenny Laskowski   Printer Friendly Version

Transitions are an integral part of a smooth flowing presentation, yet many speakers forget to plan their transitions. The primary purpose of a transition is to lead your listener from one idea to another. The following are some examples of transitions that work well:

  1. Bridge words or phrases (furthermore, meanwhile, however, in addition, consequently, finally.
  2. Trigger transition (same word or idea used twice: "a similar example is ...").
  3. Ask a Question ("How many of you ....?")
  4. Flashback ("Do you remember when I said ...?")
  5. Point-By-Point ("There are three points ...The first one is.. The second one is..etc.)
  6. Add a Visual Aid as a Transition - Many times it may be appropriate to add a visual between your regular visual aids for the sole purpose of a "visual" transition. Many times a clever cartoon used here can add some humor to your presentations.
  7. Pausing (Even a simple pause, when effectively used, can act as a transition. This allows the audience to "think" about what was just said and give it more time to regsister.
  8. Use Physical Movement (The speaker should move or change the location of their body. This is best done when you are changing to a new idea or thought.
  9. Use a Personal Story The use of a story, especially a personal one is a very effective technique used by many professional speakers. Used effectively can help reinforce any points you made during your presentation.
  10. Use the PEP formula (Point, Example, Point) (This is a very common format used and can also be combined with the use of a personal story. Make sure stories or examples you use help reinforce your message.

Three common mistakes made when using transitions:

  1. The most common mistake people make is that they DON'T use transitions at all. Transitions help your information flow from one idea to the next.
  2. The second most common mistake is using transitions that are too short. Not enough time is spent bridging to the next idea. This is extremely important when changing to a new section of ideas within your presentation.
  3. The third most common mistake is that people use the same transition throughout the presentation. This becomes very boring after a short while. Try to be creative with your transitions.

Transitions and the Team Presentation

Transitions become extremely important when a team presentation is involved. The transition from one speaker to the next must be planned and skillfully executed. Each speaker should use a brief introduction of the next topic and speaker as part of this transition.


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