Speech Transitions: How to Word Them Effectively (17 Examples)
Do you think your audience notices the transition words you use during the speech? Probably not.
However, when presenting to an audience, you need your words and ideas to flow smoothly to ensure successful delivery. This retains the central idea and helps you hold the audience's attention.
Transition words enable such flow, allowing you to move effortlessly from one idea to the next.
Therefore, it is essential to learn various transition words for speeches and the right way to use them.
You must also understand the connection between body language and speech transitions and what pitfalls to avoid when making a presentation.
What Are Speech Transitions?
Speech transitions are tools to move from one part of a speech to the next. These words, phrases, or complete sentences help a presenter connect different ideas to make the speech coherent and exciting.
Instead of listing those ideas, a presentation needs to flow.
Introducing the next concept and showing that connection helps to deliver your message effectively. The alternative would be to send your audience a list of your ideas and save them a dull and incoherent speech.
Forming connections in a speech is essential since you need your words to link your ideas to form a message.
Therefore, you must show consequences, comparisons, examples, sequences, and conclusions. They allow you to guide the audience to see your argument by making your speech smooth and your expressions clear.
Think of speech transitions as the arrows on signposts, showing hikers which directions to follow to arrive at a predetermined destination.
With these arrows showing the way, your audience can arrive at your speech's core and main message.
What Are the Types of Transitions in Speeches?
Let us look at different types of speech transition words and phrases:
1. Transition Between Similar Ideas
As the name suggests, this transition connects two similar ideas by showing where one ends and the next begins.
This type of speech transition examples includes: likewise, similarly, in a similar way, etc.
2. Transition to Elaborate Upon an Idea
These help you emphasize an idea by providing more information about it. Examples include: in addition, furthermore, moreover, also, in other words, etc.
3. Transition Between Contrasting Ideas
This shows where one idea ends, and an opposing one begins.
Contrasting transition words and phrases set up the next point to support the final idea by showing consequence or urgency.
Examples include: however, on the other hand, conversely, on the contrary, on the other side, in contrast, etc.
4. Transition to a List or Numbered Points
These speech transitions help you deliver a list of items that would otherwise be numbered on paper. A typical example is numbering each point as you go down the list.
For example: first, second, third, firstly, secondly, thirdly, etc.
5. Transition to Emphasize a Cause-Effect Relationship
This transition shows how one idea depends on the next or how its existence determines the fate of the next.
Examples include: therefore, consequently, as a result, for that reason, etc.
6. Transition to Show a Supporting Example
This simple transition is powerful as it introduces an example to support and emphasize a point.
Examples include: for example, for instance, to illustrate this, as an example, etc.
7. Transition to a Supporting Demonstration
Your presentation may include a demonstration to highlight your points further. Therefore, you need to help the audience smoothly transition from listening to you to paying attention to the demonstration.
You could tell the audience, "Now that we've discussed the theory, let's see it in action."
8. Transition Between the Main Speech Parts
You need to transition from the introduction to the main body to the conclusion. Typically, the introduction includes a brief breakdown of what your speech entails. That is, you'll let the audience know what to expect.
As you move to the main body, you can use speech transitions such as, "Let's begin," "Let's get started," etc.
When you reach your conclusion, you can wind down with "In summary," "In conclusion," "to round off," etc.
9. Transition to Raise an Earlier Point
Your speech may not flow from the beginning to the end in one straight line, and sometimes you may need to recap an earlier point for your address to resume its smooth flow or just to re-emphasize a point you need for your next part.
Examples include "let's return," "let's revisit," and "go back to…, etc.
Advanced Speech Transitions
The previous section covered most speech transitions. This section will focus on speech transition examples that apply when standing before an audience.
While you'll need the transitions mentioned above, how you execute them before an audience determines how engaging your speech will be.
Note that giving a speech allows you to elaborate more on transition words and phrases, unlike written communication.
Therefore, you're free to use phrases like "as an example," "let us look at several examples," etc.
In written communication, you need to use as few words as possible, such as "for example," "for instance," etc.
Moreover, the use of longer transitions might smoothen your speech. Therefore, use longer phrase examples in your speech, but avoid going overboard with the word count.
1. Transition to Another Speaker
In a group presentation, preparing the audience for a speaker change is vital. Your flow will likely differ, so you need to allow the audience to switch gears.
Examples include, "my colleague will talk about our next topic," "I now hand over the microphone to…", etc.
2. Commanding Speech Transitions
Asking your audience to do something specific is powerful and helps you guide their information processing.
Examples include, "Listen to this," "Guess what?", "Pay attention to this," etc. These initially seem subtle and are agreeable, making them practical guiding tools.
3. Empathy Speech Transitions
These appear to give the audience's perspective on your speech while subtly guiding their thought process where you wish.
Examples include, "Now, I know what you're thinking," "You're probably asking yourself…", etc.
While you don't necessarily know what the audience thinks, you can read their reaction to your point. It shows you're connected to them, and they, in turn, will feel the same way.
You can rely on logic and intuition to correctly guess what they are thinking based on your speech up to that point. If done correctly, this will further pique their interest and increase their attention.
4. Reveal a Significant Discovery
This speech transition works best when you want to state a significant point in the speech. It embodies the spirit of narration, where you want to reveal the big secret.
Examples include, "The results from the experiment were staggering," "One witness shared the most chilling detail," etc.
5. Highlight A Catch
This speech transition is similar to "However" in written communication.
Examples include, "But, there's a catch," "That would have been a perfect conclusion, except…", "Unfortunately, the prototype has one glaring flaw," etc.
This transition jolts the audience's attention and sets them up for the next part.
6. How-To Speech Transition
This works best when you're ready to offer solutions in your presentation. The transition primes your audience to receive the solutions; you may even see some taking notes.
You could tell them, "Let me now teach you how to…", "Here is how you too can attain similar success," etc.
7. Curiosity-Inducing Speech Transitions
Sprinkling curiosity-inducing questions at intervals in your speech sustain the audience's attention. It also refocuses them on your main points and subtly reviews previous ones.
For example, you could ask them, "What's really going on here?", "What's the aggressor's main motivation?" etc.
8. Stay With Me
When you get to complex sections of a technical presentation, you need to ensure your audience understands.
You can simplify the concepts as much as possible, but sometimes you must check in with them and encourage them. This speech transition reassures audience members and highlights where they need to pay the most attention.
Examples include "Stay with me," "Stick with me," etc.
You could also point to a presentation slide, use bold text for specific parts of the displayed text, etc.
Speech Transitions and Body Language
Your audience will shift attention between your presentation aids and your body. Presentation aids add to the quality of your speech, but your body language is more significant.
Therefore, you can capitalize on that attention through gestures to emphasize your points. For example, a finger wag could underline a critical issue.
Additionally, pointing to a specific figure on a presentation slide could focus attention and drive your point home.
Body language is powerful, and this stresses the need to prepare well for your speech, noting all crucial turns. At the very least, avoid standing still while talking on stage.
Hand and Arm Movements
Speech transitions pair well with hand and arm movements for emphasis. However, you need to avoid making it seem confrontational.
For example, too much finger wagging may seem like you're pointing at someone in the audience. It also seems aggressive. Instead, use open palms as this is more inviting and approachable.
In addition, use hand and arm movements sparingly, or reserve them for the main points.
You could even count your fingers when listing the main points in your summary to draw the audience's eyes to yourself and allow them to focus better on your points.
Walking on Stage
All Apple Event presentations, whether in person or streamed, are perfect examples of the power of walking on stage.
Every presenter ensures they move about on stage, further emphasizing their point. They sustain the audience's attention and combine hand gestures when making the main points.
These presenters learned from the best; Apple's founding father, Steve Jobs. While his technology continues to dominate today, his speeches contributed significantly to those devices' acceptance and profits.
He would walk forward when making a positive remark and backward when stating a contradictory argument. He would walk left or right when explaining how something about the device works.
The movements were well timed, ending near his presentation slide when he needed to refer to something on the screen.
While seemingly random at first, your subconscious would pick the rhythm of his movements. You were soon engrossed in the speech, grasping every detail he intended.
Suddenly stopping in the middle of the stage and saying, "Pay attention to this," "Guess what the research revealed," "What we saw was shocking," etc., was a powerful way he used to highlight your next point.
Other Body Language Factors
Other body language tools, such as facial expressions or mood changes, are equally powerful alongside speech transitions.
For example, you can smile before sharing some good news or appear serious when sharing some grave news.
You could even do something unexpected, like removing your reading glasses and saying, "Let me be frank with you guys."
Vary your tone as the speech unfolds to capture and guide your audience's attention. If done right, you could even affect their emotions and emotional reactions to your main points.
Transition Pitfalls You Need to Avoid
Poorly executed speech transitions will alter the meaning of your message and put off your audience. Here are the main ones:
Miscount Transition: This entails counting your main points but failing to follow a specific order and style.
For example, first, second, third, four, five, next, etc. Reserve counting for the summary section, where you can line up the points nicely. Additionally, avoid counting when there are subsections to your main points.
Incompatible Transition: An example is when you wish to contradict the previous point but end up stating some examples. The relationship between the first part of your sentence and the rest of it will make no sense to your audience.
Missing Transition: A poor and common way to fail at using transitions is not to use them. Switching from one point to the next with nothing to connect them only frustrates your audience.
Tangential Transition: These transitions excite the audience or help you fit in an incidental yet essential point.
However, they break from your flow and introduce new information while you're still transmitting the last part.
Reserve those for informal gatherings among friends where the more tangents your speech takes, the more interesting it is.
Speech transitions are vital components of any public speaking endeavor. They bring flow and logic to your speech and guide the audience's attention.
When used well, you'll make the audience arrive at specific conclusions and take particular actions afterward.
This article shares some of the best speech transitions to make your speeches memorable and meaningful.