In writing, it’s good practice to create transitional statements between paragraphs or sections. For example:
“Next, I’ll cover how you can implement the ideas I’ve discussed.”
“On the other hand…”
“That was one example; now I’ll give you another example.”
The same is true when you speak. Transitional statements help glue your points to each other and to your talk as a whole. They make clear the relationships between ideas. These relationships make the entire talk hold together for your audience.
Gluing slides together
Unfortunately, when people use slides, they often think in discrete chunks because each slide is a separate element. This turns into an awkward pause as they switch to the next slide. This is especially true then they aren’t sure what’s coming next.
You should always know the content of the slide that is coming next!
One way to do this is to practice. Yes, you should practice before a presentation.
Another way is to use Presenter View, which I cover in another post. Presenter View shows you the next slide (as well as the current slide and your notes) on your own monitor, while showing only the slide to the audience on the screen.
Of some help is to show the structure of a presentation visually, but while this helps the audience understand the presentation’s structure and where each slide fits into it, structure markers don’t make connections between the sections or between slides. I have an older post explaining how to show the structure of a presentation here.
Adding transitional statements
Once you know what’s coming next, you can add a transitional statement. For example, in the 2 slides that I show above, I have 2 statements:
- You may need to convince executives that presentation skills need to be improved.
- Use gentle persuasion to bring about the willingness to change.
What would be a good transitional statement after the first slide and before the second one? Here are a couple of ideas:
“What techniques might work?”
“Let’s discuss a few ways to do this.” (if there are a few ways that follow)
You can probably think of others.
Another advantage of transitional statements if that they force you to do more than read your slides.
Types of transitional statements
If you look up “transitions between paragraphs,” you’ll find a lot of ideas, although they’re mostly meant for writing. You can categorize transitional statements by the types of relationship between the two slides. Here are a few ideas.
- Similarity/agreement: in the same way, similarly, by the same token, and so on
- Contradiction/contrast: On the other hand, in contrast, in spite of, and so on
- Cause/effect: Provided that, in order to, as a result, for this reason, and so on
- Examples: To illustrate, for example, to demonstrate, and so on
- Conclusion: As we have seen, to summarize, in short, all in all, and so on
These are just short phrases, but definitely consider using full sentences as in the examples I gave above. When you do this, you create anticipation for the upcoming slide and this holds the attention of your audience. I talk about a way to use anticipation on a slide (not between slides) in this post.
Do you use transitional statements between slides? Leave a comment with an example! If not, do you think this technique will help you hold the attention of your audience while also helping them to understand the relationship between slides? And please use the Share buttons below to let others know about this technique, because they’ll get value from it, too.
Great post Ellen. So much is said about the problems with using lists of bullets, but almost nothing’s said about PPT and Keynote decks basically being lists of slides.
Using verbal transitions really helps a slide deck to support a coherent message, rather than becoming a long series of disjointed points.