Sept Blog 4- Pic 1If audiences forget 90% of what you present, then understanding how the brain works is key to controlling that critical 10% of what you want your audiences to remember. Brain science findings tell us that the brain remembers information by making associations. So how do you help the brain build those associations? One way is to use transitions effectively in a presentation.

What mistakes do most presenters make with transitions?

Unfortunately, many presenters have no transitions, jumping from point to point with no apparent logic; others transition too quickly, or transition in the same way, which becomes dull. The result is a disjointed and forgettable presentation. How do you fix this?

There are two types of transitions: between thoughts in each section of your presentation and between different parts of the presentation. Let’s look at each separately.

Use common transition words to provide a fluid speech

You can use transitions to link separate thoughts in each section of your presentation by using common transition words that help the audience follow along. Storytelling words (like “before,” “after,” and “meanwhile”) are a great way to do this. You can also show cause and effect (“because,” “therefore”), provide emphasis (“in fact,” “actually”), and to contrast ideas (“on the other hand,” “otherwise,” and “however”). Good transition words will make your speech appear fluid and easy to understand. If it easy to understand, it is also easier to remember. As an added bonus, these words often eliminate the need for filler noises such as “um” and “ah,” giving your entire presentation an extra polish.

Bring back your agenda slides to fit each section into the bigger picture

When moving from one section to another in your presentation, fit your content into the context of the bigger picture. You can do this easily by summarizing what’s been said, how it fits in the overall structure, and what’s still to come. Don’t be afraid to illustrate this by bringing back your agenda slide between sections. Reminding your audience that there’s a clear path keeps everyone on track.

Most agenda items however, which may be repeated, are often in a bullet-format. Repeating abstract bullets often as a transition technique may not be strong enough for memories to be formed. Solid memories need solid visualization. For example, let’s say that you want to show how your predictive analytics software impacts clients from Finance, Transportation, and Retail. An agenda slide could have these 3 bullet points that you can repeat often. They may still not be as memorable as 3 amplified visuals, such as some money flying into the back of a giant truck, which ran into a retail store and you can see only the back wheels. The more vivid (and often surreal or exaggerated) the visual, the stronger the memory. And the tighter the connection between the elements, the stronger the recall (even remembering one of the 3 elements is likely to trigger the other two). It is the same when you recall the alphabet. It is sufficient for someone to tell you a letter and you immediately know what comes before it and what is after it.

Ultimately, when you have good transitions, you essentially help an audience to build better connections between separate parts of your speech, which results in a more memorable presentation.


Pay attention to your transitions when you’re going over (and over) your presentation. Often we don’t know something’s off until we say it. If your transition sounds awkward, keep replacing it with alternatives until you find what sounds natural. Practicing your transitions will help them seem smoother during the actual presentation.

You can learn more proven brain science skills on creating memorable presentations at our 2-Day Bootcamp workshop on October 20 and 21. Find out more here.

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