Transitions within a presentation are pivotal moments, opportunities to guide your audience to a new idea or avenues to lose their attention or break their stream of thought. A polished presenter is well aware of the importance of smooth transitions.
Using “first” or “next” to lead into your next point does not offer a connection of the topics in your listeners’ mind. Rather, to bring continuity and creativity to your transitions, try these seven public speaking tips to help focus your audience, so they don’t get lost along the way.
- Use a bridging statement. Let’s say you are concluding Point A with this statement, “Good health depends not only on stress reduction but also on proper nutrition.” Your bridge statement into Point B could then follow, “Obviously, you can see how eating right reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer.” Then, begin your next point with, “So, let’s talk about what we mean by ‘proper nutrition.’” Notice how the bridge statement connects your first point to the next and creates a logical flow in your listeners’ minds and has them eager to hear your next point.
- Creatively change-up the common countdown. Enumeration is the most common form of transition. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, it is devoid of style and imagination. Rather, reverse the order – Letterman-style! Lead off with a remark such as, “I may not have Letterman’s Top Ten reasons today, but I’d like to outline for you the five reasons our team thinks this new platform is a great idea.” Then, list your reasons in reverse numerical order, starting with reason number five and end with your strongest point.
- Pose a series of questions. Here is a creative – and memorable – way to transition through your presentation. Let each point begin with a question, one logically following the next. “What’s the problem?” Define the problem or situation to your audience. “How serious is the problem?” Give your audience the details and importance of the situation. “How can we tackle this problem?” Offer solutions. “How long will this take?” Ask then answer the obvious questions your audience will have about the problem or situation. Taylor this approach to your specific presentation, and keep your audience engaged and your message relevant and memorable.
- Consider a themed transition. Look for a metaphor to connect your topics. For example, in a change management situation, use the visual image of a “security blanket.” “Last year, our security blanket was in the consistent sales of product X,” then give your details. Transition to your next point with, “Another security blanket that we’ve held on to for years is…” and again, give details. Create consistency and interest as you transition using the metaphor. Finish your presentation with your call to action, “My challenge is for us to toss away our security blanket and embrace….”
- Display a dramatically different visual. Let a self-explanatory visual – through humor, strong statistic, or a captivating question you intend to answer – flash on the screen. This will capture attention and guide your audience into your next point without the need for verbal comment. Creative public speaking tips as this form of visual will set you apart as a polished presenter.
- Be the transition. Capture attention by an intentional pause before stepping into your new point. This planned silence can speak loudly for a natural transition. Change your physical location and move to a different place in the room to keep your audience’s attention as you visually queue them of a new point.
- Combine efforts. Feel free to be creative and combine the last couple transitions. For example, as you change your visual, walk across the floor or let the silence hang for a moment. Appeal to different senses – not just verbal communication – as you transition from point to point to keep your audience engaged and interested.