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Think back to a recent time when you were listening to someone speak (whether in a conversation or during a presentation); did you ever feel confused, lost or unclear?  If so, this is a clear sign that the speaker lacked effective use of transitions.  While this is quite common, it should and can be rectified.

First, a definition: a transition is either a word or a group of words used to provide a listener (or even a reader) with a type of  “directional signal.”  As a speech and presentation coach since 1994, I’ve noticed that this is a skill many of my clients lack.  When you use transitions you’re explaining how one idea is linked to another.  (Think of it as being analogous to providing the thread that sews your thoughts together.)  The benefit is that your communication flows more smoothly vs. sounding fragmented or choppy.  As a result, your listener (or reader) can easily follow your train of thought.

As you may have suspected, transitions fall into different categories based on the purpose they serve.  Let me offer you some examples: when you want to contrast ideas you may use: although, however, on the other hand; when you want to indicate cause-effect, you may use: as a result, consequently, therefore; when you want to expand on an idea you’ve already stated, you may use: also, for example, for instance; when you want to end your remarks, you may use: in conclusion, in closing, in summary.

You may also have transitions that you prefer and can add to what I’ve suggested.  When you’re building your communication skills, be sure to factor in your use of transitions; it’s a helpful bridge to take your audience on their journey.

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