Effective introductions set up the rest of the speech and create an expectation in the audience for what will happen next. To meet that expectation, and to keep the speech working as a coherent whole, all the elements of a speech must flow together. In another module you have spent some time learning about transitions and signposting. In this section here, we just want to take a little time to discuss transitions and signposting as they relate to introductions and conclusions.
Transitions keep all the elements of the speech flowing together. Transitions allow you to show the connections between all the elements of the speech, relate all the different parts of the speech to the main purpose, and help the audience see how everything fits together into a complete and coherent speech.
At the very least, you will want and need transitions (or signposts, which we will discuss below) between the introduction and the first main point of your speech, between each of the main points of your speech, and then after the last main point and your conclusion.
Signposts are a specific and generally shortened form of a transition. Signposts are quick cues to the audience that the speech is moving from one point to another. Signposts are often short statements such as “first,” “second,” and “next,” They are called signposts because they quickly point out to the audience where we all are in the speech.
Transitions are more detailed than signposts. Transitions can and do fulfill the same functions of signposts, but they need to do more. Transitions show the connections between all the separate elements of the entire speech. Transitions show the audience the connection between the introduction and the rest of the speech, the connection between each main point, and the connection between the body and the conclusion.
Transitions can do this using two techniques: Internal summaries and Mini-previews. Later in this module we will discuss summary as one of the key functions of a conclusion. Internal summaries take place as transitions between the main points of a speech. An internal summary quickly wraps up the preceding main point before transitioning to the next main point. A mini-preview is simply a shorter version of the main preview from the introduction. A mini-preview follows the internal summary and sets up the next main point.
Transitions are not just verbal. Effective speakers use movement as a transition device. Speakers plan purposeful movement to show the audience, literally, that the speech is “moving” to a new point. In most instances, speakers will start in the center of the room for the introduction, move slightly to one side for the first point, move slightly to the other side for the next point (and so on as needed), and then move back to center for the conclusion. This movement, tied to verbal transition devices, makes it much simpler for the audience to follow the structure of the speech.