Imagine you are listening to a presentation. You blink or lose focus for a second, and suddenly you have no idea what the person is talking about. You think, “OK, one minute he’s talking about contractors’ safety statistics, and now he’s talking about the company’s financial difficulties and restructuring. How did we get there? I am lost and confused – time to zone out and grab a nap.”
This scenario is most likely the result of bad presentation structure or inadequate transitions from thought to thought.
Let’s discuss transitions.
Transitions help the audience follow along, step by step. They let the audience know you are deviating from the previous train of thought. Here are three simple ways to transition from point to point in a speech or presentation:
1) Reiterate your last idea.
Example: “Now that we have discussed how soft skills will be a personal goal for everyone next year, let’s discuss how conflict in the workplace can erode earnings and force you to lay people off to maintain a viable business.”
2) Ask a question and lead into your next idea.
Example: “Will we ever reach a point where the culture in the corporate office embraces the fundamental concept that respect and trust among employees and leaders increases profits? It’s easy to come up with examples of negative traits, but let me give you some recent indications that positive change is under way.”
3) Use words that clearly indicate a shift from the previous train of thought.
- “Let’s look at this from another perspective.”
- “Let me go off on a tangent for a minute.”
- “Let me put this into a real-world scenario.”
- “You may be envisioning this as someone else’s problem, but let me twist it around and demonstrate a different line of thought.”
- “Today we have covered the benefits of restructuring our group. I want to demonstrate my passion for work-family balance. The story I am about to tell you may at first seem irrelevant, but with a bit of thought, you will understand why I am standing here today.”