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Public Speaking Course: 

Transitions

Most books and articles written about how to improve your public speaking skills, say that if you want to be a polished speaker you need to tie all your information together. You must lead your audience and let them know  that you are getting ready to give them slightly different, but related information. This is called transition, or segue (pronounced seg-way) in talked about in my public speaking course.

I believe transitions are great to use if you want your audience members so bored that they fall right out of their chairs and smash their heads on the floor. Lets pretend were at the amusement park and take a look at what transitions are more fun. If you look around for awhile you will see that all the excitement is over on the roller coaster where the transitions are sharp. They are sharp and exciting even though you can see them coming. There is also excitement at the bumper cars where you can get blind-sided by a car from any direction. There isn't any excitement over at the kiddie choo choo train where turns and motion are mild so the children don't get too upset. You could relate the textbook kind of transitions with an adult riding the kiddie choo choo train. Talk about BORING! This awareness is a great tip from my public speaking course.

OK, I'll admit, some thought should be given to doing transitions, especially with older, more conservative audiences, or if you have a high content speech. But you don't have to be a boring, snoozer presenter by saying things like, ." . . speaking of tacos. I'm now going to talk about tacos."

You could, however, do a transition like that and then make fun of yourself
for doing it by saying something like, "Wow, that was a great transition wasn't it?"

Transitions are one of the places where you could definitely plan to use some well needed humorous material. 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 course, you will learn that transitions
aren't important at all for 85 percent of funny 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 closer attention to bridging the gaps between your points and topics. Just don't be too boring and don't think you have to say something to the audience in order to make the transition. After your public speaking course you will see a  good presenter does not demand a transition.

You can make transitions instead 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 something new and different 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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