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Public Speaking Course: 

Transitions

Most of the books and articles written on public speaking and presentation skills will tell you that in for you to be a polished speaker you must tie all of your information together. They say you must lead your audience and let them know  that slightly different, but related information is coming. This is called transition, or segue (pronounced seg-way). As you will find from my public speaking course I do believe fully that smooth transitions are necessary if you plan on putting your audience to sleep from boredom. 

Lets pretend were at the amusement park. Look around for awhile and tell me where all the excitement is. Obviously, it's over on the roller coaster where the transitions are sharp and exciting. 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 really mild so the lkids don't get scared. There is excitement at the bumper cars too where you can get blind-sided because cars are coming at you from all directions. This 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 highly informative speech. But you don't have to be a boring, snoozer by saying things like, ." . . speaking of chickens. I'm now going to talk about chickens."

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

Transitions are one of the places where you could definitely use some humor to spice it up. 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 most comedic presenters or stand-up comics. You can just talk 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 trite and don't think you have to say something to make the transition. After your public speaking course you will see a  good presenter does not demand a transition.

You can cue 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 on this section . . ."

When practicing 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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