Transition can be defined as an in-between state. It’s a journey, a passage, from one stage to another.
In architecture, a transition is a connecting space between two confined areas. For example, a foyer serves as a transition by connecting the entryway to a living area space.
In life, we may say people are in transition when they’re between life stages such as having just graduated from college but not yet working.
A company may be in transition as they move from one ownership and management style to another.
In the theater, we may be prompted to recognize a transitional state by a change of scenery or by the use of music or light.
So yes, it’s a passage from one state to another, moving from A to B.
The proper use of transitional words or phrases is vital for anyone who performs training or does any type of public speaking. Our audiences (whether in a classroom, boardroom, meeting room, or a large venue) need to be able to follow us if they are to learn from us.
Perhaps, as an audience member, you’ve found yourself out of sync with the speaker and asking yourself, “Is the speaker still on point 3 or has he moved on?” That means the speaker has not done a good job of transitioning.
An effective speaker will leave many breadcrumbs and road signs throughout a presentation or talk. Our audiences need to be able to follow us if they are going to understand, believe, and remember our messages. Here are some ways we can help our listeners follow us.
- If naming your main points, be consistent in how you name them. Unlike the title of this post which is purposely misleading, if you use numbers, stick with numbers. (Point one or First) If using letters, stick with letters. You may be saying, “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” but I often hear speakers mixing them up.
- It’s not necessary to actually name the points. You can use phrases such as another action item is, moving on to the next idea, a similarly interesting factor is, OR that takes us to the final point. What IS necessary is letting our audiences know we are moving on.
- When you provide supporting material for a main point, use transitional phrases such as these to let the audience know you’re not just giving your own opinion: as an illustration, to demonstrate this point, let me show you, to emphasize the importance, experts have noted that, as recent scientific studies show, and other similar phrases.
- Time sequences need to be noted; otherwise, our listeners may become confused. If a speaker is covering several time periods, it’s vital to clarify the timing. Say, “That summary was our company’s focus for the first five years. But in 2015, we moved our attention to…. Then last year, we targeted improving employee retention.” These timing transitions help the audience to move right along with the speaker.
- The final transition I’ll mention today is the close. Do you see how I set that up? By saying, “The final transition…” I let you know that this post is coming to an end. Endings are meaningful but are often overlooked. I’ve heard speakers cover their last point and then abruptly say, “That’s all I have.” OR “I’m done. Thanks.” Endings may be what your audience most remembers, even if they really liked the entire talk! So let them know you’re transitioning to a close by using phrases similar to these: before I close, in conclusion, in summary, finally, as we come to the end of today’s workshop.
May all of your transitions be both smooth and easy to follow.