Transition Words

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Why should we use
Transition Words?

A few days ago, I discussed with a friend how we can influence our students by giving effective lectures. During the course of our discussion, he shared with me a couple of anecdotes about his professors working at a reputed university in Chennai – India.

Dr. XYZ is a professor of mechanical engineering. He is a great scholar and research guide. He has excellent subject knowledge but his communication skills are rather poor. When he gives a lecture, he bombards the students with ideas, facts and data and doesn't connect his ideas properly. It is very difficult to follow his disjointed lectures. Students find his lectures very boring. They always complain that the professor's lectures do not make sense to them. He also made a comment on another professor working at the same university:

Dr. ABC is an excellent communicator. He is not very strong in his subjects but the way he delivers his lectures is liked by most students. He links the ideas well and makes his audience keenly follow the lectures. They admire his flow of thoughts and words.

The moral of the anecdotes is clear: A successful teacher delivers his/her lectures effectively.

What are the characteristics of an effective lecture?

One of the important characteristics is the use of
TRANSITION WORDS also called linking words or connecting words.

A good speaker uses transitional words and links his ideas well. That makes his/her audience follow it without strain.

What is the purpose of transition words?

It is to create a smooth flow of thoughts. Without transition words, you'll blurt out an idea after idea after idea - all of which will seem unrelated.

Why are transition words important in a speech?

What do experts say on the role played by transition words?

In the words of professional speaker and speaking coach Max Dixon: "The audience is dying to know the relationship between ideas. Their brains are hard-wired for that. It's more important when you are speaking than when you are writing because the listeners can't go back to their notes."

"The auditory processing is complicated," says Dr. Carol Kauffman, psychologist and assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School. "People need a heads-up when the course of the conversation is going to change. We're used to it in movies, where music is often the transitional signal. Think of the movie Jaws - when you hear that theme, you know what's coming."

Transition words are also called transition signals. They guide the listeners. "Listeners need to be guided," says Dixon. "When the speaker takes care of the listeners in that way and makes sure they always know what the speaker is talking about, it builds the audience's trust in the speaker. So the audience relax a bit more. When they relax, they are more open to be influenced by the speech."

A good speaker keeps the listeners' brains active throughout his/her presentation or speech. He uses transition techniques effectively in order to make the listeners listen to him/her actively and productively. "If the brain is bored or gets tired because it is overwhelmed or gets confused, it can't stay in that place," says Dixon, "so it daydreams, creating its own interest."

There are numerous transitional expressions. Effectively constructing each transition often depends upon one's ability to identify words or phrases that will indicate to the reader/listener, the kind of logical relationships you want to convey.

The table below shows the kind of logical relationship you are trying to express and the examples of words or phrases that express this logical relationship. The transition words that you find in the text are : first, second, third….

For Instance : These connecting words link the ideas well and facilitate the reader understand the text better.

Everyone communicates. Teachers and students, parents and children, employers and employees, friends, strangers and enemies and all communicate. We have been communicating from the first weeks of life and will keep on doing so until we die. If that is the case, why should not you study an activity you've done your entire life? There are three reasons.

The first reason is Studying interpersonal communication will give you a new look at a familiar topic.

A second reason for studying the subject has to do with the staggering amount of time we spend communicating. For example, a study of over one thousand employees at Fortune 1000 companies revealed that workers send and receive an average of 178 messages every working day.

There is a third, more compelling reason for studying interpersonal communication. To put it bluntly, all of us could learn to communicate more effectively.

Any length of speech with transitions is more interesting than one without them.

List of Transition Words

To express Similarity :

in th same way
just as…
so too

To express Exception and Contrast :

in spite of
on the one hand
on the other hand
in contrast
on the contrary

To express Sequence :


To express time :

at last

To quote an Example :

for example
for instance
to illustrate

NOTE : This is written by Mr. Albert P Rayan. Thanks to him.

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