A speaker at an event making his speech flow with the help of effective transitions

Effective Speech Transitions: How to Make Your Speech Flow

You’re working on your speech and have just finished writing the first draft. However, when you say your speech out loud, you notice that something’s not right.

There is some awkwardness between the points. The speech just isn’t flowing in a smooth manner.

A common reason for this is speech transition. Using transitions in your speech allows you to move from one part of your speech to the next in a smooth manner, making your speech flow appropriately as well make it easier for the audience to follow your speech.

A speech without transitions can seem disorganized and confusing to an audience.

Types of Transitions

speech transitions

Here are the different types of transitions you can use in your speech to ensure it flows smoothly:

Counterpoints

These transitions are used when you are talking about ideas that contradict themselves.

Example: Reading makes you grow in every way. But on the other hand, if you read and don’t act upon what you have learned, it’s just a waste of time.

Transitions:

  • On the other hand…
  • Contradictory to my previous statement…
  • But if we look at the other side…
  • Conversely…
  • But what about…
  • Contrast that with
  • At the same time…

They help in making a persuasive speech with 2 different arguments flow smoothly.

Related article: The Secret of Writing a Persuasive Speech (On Any Topic) | Ethos, Logos, Pathos is Not Enough

Important ideas

speech transition for important ideas

Your speech will have some points, messages or ideas that you want to emphasize upon. Instead of just stating them out, having a transition for them can make them stand out and show the audience that what you are about to say is important.

Example: I still remember when I was 11 years old, my father bent down and whispered to me, (…pause…) “Wait, son. Patience will get you what you deserve.”

Transitions:

  • Pause: Just pause for a few seconds before/after you say the important statement to add more impact
  • Slow down: Slower your pace to emphasize on the point you want the audience to take notice of
  • Question: Pose a question to the audience before stating your main idea
  • Stage movement: Move to another area of the stage from where you were standing before stating your main idea

Processes

When you are talking about a process of something or giving steps on how to achieve something, it’s best to use numerical transitions for them to make it easier for the audience to understand how many steps are included in the process you are stating.

Example: Let’s talk about how can write your first speech: First, have a key idea in mind. Second, write down all the things associated with that idea. Third

Transitions:

  • First/firstly/The first one is…
  • Second/Secondly/The second one is…
  • Third/Thirdly/The third one is…
  • Last/Lastly/Finally/The fourth one is…

Example

When you’re talking about an example to support your previous statement, using a transition can help smoothen out your talk.

Example: Small lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on the way you approach your day. For example, if you start waking up an hour earlier than you’re used to, you can use that time to plan your entire day.

Transitions:

  • For example…
  • You know how…
  • Take the case of…
  • To understand this…
  • What’s an example of this?…

A change in tone can also help with transitions during an example.

Related article: All You Need to Know about Voice Modulation & Tonality for Public Speaking

Handing the stage to another speaker

If you are presenting something or speaking along with multiple people, don’t finish your part, abruptly stop and let the other person start talking. Use a transition to let the person who you are handing the stage to as well as the audience know that you are going to be passing the mic to someone else.

Transitions:

  • I’ll now pass on the stage to John who will take you through the next points…
  • To help us understand this topic better, we have Lee, who will talk us through…
  • To talk about this, we have Raj…

The next speaker can complete the transition with a simple acknowledgment such as “Thank you”.

Visual aids

speech transitions during ppt presentations

If you’re using a power point presentation or demonstrating your talk with the help of visual aids, use transitions whenever you’re switching from one slide to another or when you are talking about a point yourself and turn to the slide for reference.

Example: The next slide shows us how our sales have increased this month. As you can see here, the sales are spiking mainly during the weekends.

Transitions:

  • As you can see here…
  • This graph indicates…
  • Moving on to the next slide…

Call to action

Most (if not every) speech ends with a Call to Action (CTA) that asks the user to commit to an action which relates to the main idea of the speech. Use transitions for your CTA for better clarity and more emphasis.

Example: I urge you to try this the tonight before going to bed.

Transitions:

  • So, how do you apply this in your life?…
  • Try this when you go home today…
  • How can you help you in this?…
  • I urge you to…

Previously stated point

Use transitions when speaking about a point you have already spoken about or stated in the previous part of your speech.

Example: Remember when we spoke about trolls? Let’s dive deep into that now.

Transitions:

  • Remember we spoke about ____?…
  • Let’s revisit…
  • We spoke about ___ earlier. Let’s elaborate on that…
  • Let’s go back to…

Transitions That Don’t Need a Transition

While transitions are important in smoothening out your speech, there are some instances where you don’t really need a transitioning word or phrase like the examples provided above. These instances are:

Similar ideas

When you are talking about similar ideas, instead of saying things like “Similarly”, “Likewise”, etc. you can just say the points without a transition. I’ve seen it work better when I say the ideas out in succession just as they are, without adding transitions.

Moving from the introduction of the speech to the body

In a speech, if you have to state something out like “Let’s begin talking about…” or “Now let’s get started…”, etc. it makes the speech sound amateurish.

A much more effective transition is when your content speaks for itself.

Instead of stating a transitional statement, writing and structuring your speech in a manner that makes a clear distinction between your introduction and your body is much more effective and calls for a smoother transition and a more effective speech.

Moving from the body of the speech to the conclusion

Similar to the previous point, there’s no need for a transitional statement from your body to your conclusion. If your speech is written and structured properly, it won’t require a transition.

The audience will be able to tell when you are talking about your body and when you are concluding your speech.

You can also check out this resource for understanding the importance of sentence transitions. I found it particularly helpful especially for transitioning between paragraphs.

Related article: 5 Ways to End Your Speech With Maximum Impact!

Using Voice and Body Language to Transition

Sometimes, the best way to transition from one point to another is by using your voice or body. Changing the tone of your voice can clearly indicate a transition. Similarly, using the stage as a means to talk about different parts of your speech can be a great way to subconsciously communicate transitions to your audience.

For example, you start off with the intro at the center of the stage, come to the right for the first half your body, move to the left for the second half and conclude your speech back in the center.

Related article: 5 Body Language Tips to Command the Stage

Transition Mistakes

Incorrect transitions

Using incorrect transitions in your speech can horribly confuse an audience. For instance, if you say the word “however” but continue with an idea which is similar in nature, it will make the audience wonder whether or not they are following your speech correctly.

Inconsistent transitions

This usually happens while explaining processes. For instance, if you start with “first, second…” and then say the word “point number 3”, it causes inconsistency in your speech. This isn’t necessarily a big deal as long as you are putting across your point in a manner that the audience is able to easily understand.

Overusing the same transition

Monotony is the enemy. Using the same transition in your speech over and over again can cause your speech to sound very repetitive even if your actual messaging is different throughout. Use transitions that sound different every now and then to add more variety to your speech.

Using speech transitions help you connect your speech and make it more consumable to an audience. But be aware of not overusing them or using them where they are not required.

Hrideep barot

Hrideep Barot is the founder and chief writer at Frantically Speaking, a portal to help people learn everything about public speaking based out of Mumbai. The purpose of franticallyspeaking.com is to showcase the lessons that he has learned (and still learning) from his numerous stage experiences and mentors over all these years.