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Crossing Bridges With Three Transitions: Verbal, Vocal, Visual

When most of us think of transitions, we usually think of a word or a phrase that will lead from one idea to the next. In fact, there are three distinct types of transitions; using all three will give your presentation added interest, vitality, and energy. The three types are:

  1. Verbal: These are the actual words you use and are the most common forms of transitions. Some transitional words and phrases include:

    However

    There is an even better way

    For example

    But

    Another reason is

    And

    Here's where __ fits in

    In addition

    Although

    On the other hand

    In the same way

    So you see

    These are just a few of the

    Think of it

    In short

    To show you what I mean

    Besides

    That's why

    All things considered

    A case in point is

  2. Vocal: Your voice can be a transition all by itself. You can use your voice as a transitional tool by changing pitch, rhythm, and tone. It can very effective to suddenly get louder at an emotional point in your presentation—but you can also make a strong impact by getting softer and slower (as long as you're sure that the audience can still hear you). Below you'll find an excerpt from Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy. Try using a variety of vocal techniques (review Chapter 5 if necessary) to transition from one idea to the next in this text.

    • To be, or not to be: that is the question:
      Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
      The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
      Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
      And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
      No more; and by a sleep to say we end
      The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
      That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
      Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
      To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub...

    Vocal transitions can be particularly effective when repetition is involved; try speaking the "To die: to sleep" loudly the first, and softly the second (or vice versa) and see what effect it has in moving on the next idea. Use your voice to command attention. Speaking too quickly or breathlessly translates into reduced credibility. Give vocal weight to your key points and transitions.

  3. Visual: This is a physical transition that your audience can actually see. Don't be afraid to use physical movements that reinforce your transitions. It could be moving from one side of the room to another (or simply taking one or two steps forward or back), standing from a sitting position (or vice versa), or using a prop or visual aid. When the speaker on exercise reached the concluding transition I described previously, he also moved from one side of the stage to the other, which emphasized the shift he was making as he spoke. This can be very effective when combined with the pause. For instance: "Asking questions can change your life. I know (pause, two steps forward) because it changed mine."


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