By using appropriate verbal transitions you can ensure that your presentation or speech flows naturally. A verbal transition is a short phrase that connects different parts of the presentation. Transitions are typically used to provide seamless links at different points, particularly when changing from one slide to the next.
We all use verbal transitions in speeches and presentations whether we are conscious of them or not. The key is to make sure that we choose the most effective transitions in order to make the presentation as fluid as possible. The problem caused by failing to pay attention to transitions is particularly evident when a presenter introduces each new slide with a phrase such as 'Now I would like to talk about...' This type of transition fails to connect the different segments of the presentation leaving the audience with a fragmented view of the whole talk. It also forces the audience to effectively re-start their understanding of the presentation afresh at each new slide.
To avoid breaking up the flow of your message in this way, decide on your verbal transitions for each slide in advance and practice them when you rehearse your presentation. There are many different types of verbal transition to choose from. The examples below are among the most common.
Direct transitions are short phrases that summarise the previous slide and introduce the new slide. Let's say your previous slide relates to the finalisation of the product development process and the subsequent slide covers the marketing strategy. A poor transition would be 'OK, now I am going to talk about the marketing strategy'. An example of a good direct transition could be 'So, we have developed an excellent product, the next stage is to execute a marketing strategy that maximises our potential for sales'. In this case we have summarised the previous slide and connected forward to the next slide. The audience are carried along with the presentation and the flow is sustained.
Another classic verbal transition is the rhetorical question. Using our previous example we might say 'So, we have developed an excellent product. How are we going to take it to market?' This is a great introduction to a new slide as you can then simply proceed to answer the question. However, be careful not to use too many rhetorical questions as this can actually detract from your talk. If possible mix different types of verbal transitions throughout your presentation.
In time you will probably become very adept at developing transitions on the spot and you might not need to develop them in advance for every presentation you give. However, for really critical presentations, it is definitely worth identifying verbal transitions in advance as they have a valuable role in getting your message across.
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