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Transitions

Most books and articles that concentrate on public speaking techniques will tell you to in order to be a polished speaker you must tie all your information together. You must lead your audience and alert them that slightly different, but related information is coming. This is called transition, or segue (pronounced seg-way).

LET ME STATE RIGHT NOW THAT I FULLY BELIEVE SMOOTH TRANSITIONS ARE NECESSARY IF YOU WANT TO HAVE YOUR AUDIENCE MEMBERS SO BORED THEY FALL RIGHT OUT OF THEIR SEATS AND SMASH THEIR HEADS ON THE FLOOR.

Lets pretend were at the amusement park. Look around for awhile and tell
me where the excitement is. Of course, it's over on the roller coaster
where transitions are sharp. They are sharp and exciting even though
you can see them coming. The excitement isn't over at the kiddie choo
choo train (notwithstanding, the excitement you might feel watching your little munchkin on there for the very first time) where turns and motion are mild so the little ones don't get too upset. The excitement is also at the bumper cars where you can get blind-sided because cars are coming at you from all directions. The excitement isn't at the baby boat ride where a 2cm wave would flip your little bundle of joy out of the boat. That awareness should be incorporated in what you learn from your public speaking course.

OK, I'll admit, some thought should be given to transition, especially with older, more traditional audiences, and when you have a very high content speech. But you don't have to be a trite, snoozer by saying things like, ." . . speaking of bananas. I'm now going to talk about bananas."

You could, however, do a transition like that and then make fun of yourself
for doing it by saying something like, "Don't you think that transition
was really smooth?"

Transitions are one of the places where you could definitely plan to use some
well needed humor. This works well with technical audiences because they won't
feel you are wasting their time. Since, in their minds, you are
REQUIRED to do a transition anyway, it's OK if it's funny.

As you master everything from your public speaking skills, you will learn that transitions
aren't important at all for 85 percent or higher humor content presenters or stand-up comics. You can just speak away and as long as they are laughing, no one much cares about transitions. If you are not in this category, then you can begin paying a little attention to bridging the gaps between your points and topics. Just don't be trite and don't think you have to say something to make the transition. After your public speaking course you will see a  presenter does not demand a transition.

You can make transitions by changing your stage position, pausing, using visual aids, giving out a handout, picking up a prop or sharply varying the sound you make come out of the public address system. Do anything that breaks the pattern of what you were doing in the previous segment
and introduces what you plan to do.

For verbal transitions, one-liners, anecdotes, and questions work well. Also, people seem to like and need recaps, so I am in favor of saying things like, "To recap this section . . ."

When exercising your skills from your public speaking course, whatever you do, think in terms of roller coasters and bumper cars so you keep your audience excited and alert all the time.


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