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10 Tips for Using a Segue in Public Speaking

David used to have a big fear of speaking in public. He got over that, so now he wants to help you get over your fear of public speaking.

What Is a Segue?

A segue (pronounced "seg-way") is a smooth transition in a speech from one topic to another without confusing the audience as to why the transition was made. You don't want to be talking about one topic, then switch to a different topic with no clear indication as to why you switched. You want the transition to be subtle, but noticeable.

Segues are very critical when speaking, especially in long speeches. If you expect to perform a lot of public speaking on a variety of topics, learning to segue from one topic to another in a smooth fashion will keep your audience interested in what you are talking about.

Having a good segue will help keep your audience interested in your speech.

Having a good segue will help keep your audience interested in your speech.

How Segues Work

Below are some examples of how a segue can be used in other ways that don't involve public speaking. The idea is the same and can easily be applied when giving a speech.

  • Segue in music. A marching band can use a cadence in between songs. Once a song is finished, the band proceeds to a cadence, then that cadence will lead to a new song. This is an effective transition.
  • Segue in literature. In an essay or story, certain words and phrases can be used to make the transition from one topic to another.
  • Segue in television and movies. For example, in a television show, there may be a shot of a plane flying. The view then transitions to the interior of the plane. This is an effective segue.

Tips on How to Perform a Segue in a Speech

Determining how to perform a segue during a public speaking engagement is up to you to decide. There is no tried and true way of doing it since each topic is different and each speech is unique. However, there are some tips you can follow when you want to perform an effective segue:

  1. Refer to examples. When you are finished discussing a topic, provide examples at the end, even stating the words "for example". This will let your audience know that you have finished discussing that topic, and moved on to examples, which will lead to a new topic. You can even use other words, such as "In fact, this situation came up..." or "Before we move on, here is an example of what I am talking about."
  2. Use opposing words. If you are comparing two points that could be different, use words such as "yet," "but," "in contrast," and "however." This will advise your audience that you are switching to another topic.
  3. Use comparing words. If you wish to compare one topic to another, then use words such as "like"; "similarly"; "as compared to"; "another point is ..."; etc.
  4. Use linking words. Maybe you have two topics that are connected and very comparable. In cases like this, you will use words such as "and," "also," and "the same as."
  5. Use visuals. If you have a slideshow presentation, chart graph, or other visual aid, use it as a transition point. A visual cue that a transition is coming could be the easiest for your audience to pick up.
  6. Talk between topics. Ask if anyone in the audience has any questions, talk to the audience, and then move on to the next topic.
  7. Provide personal insight. Once the previous topic is done, talk about a personal story that may lead to your next topic. Or tell a joke, or use some other glimpse of something personal.
  8. Practice your segues. If you write your speech, then you will want to practice it and its transitions. If a segue sounds forced and unnatural, scrap it and try for something else.
  9. Don't repeat yourself. Just like your topics, the segues you use can't be boring either. So don't repeat the same one over and over.
  10. Take a break. If you are giving a long public speech, then take a five-minute break in between topics. State this is for the audience to stretch their legs or use the bathroom. When they come back, you can start a new topic and they will know it's a new topic.

Example of a Segue

Below is an example of a poorly done segue:

The vehicles produced and sold this year all performed below our expectations. Profits were up by 5%.

In the example above, one sentence says vehicles sold below expectations. Then the next sentence says profits went up. There is no indication of whether or why the topic has changed; the transition as it is doesn't make sense.

This is an example of a better segue:

The vehicles produced and sold this year all performed below our expectations. Despite that, profits were up by 5%.

The keywords in the sentence above are "despite that." Those words acknowledge the contrast between the two ideas and help transition from one topic to another. The audience knows what to expect next, most likely some discussion of the disparity between low performance and high profits.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Why is a segue needed?

Answer: Segues serve as a great transition from one topic to the next. It prevents a startled or abrupt change that may confuse the audience. Segues allow the audience to follow along and know that a transition from one topic to the next has happened.

Question: How do I get a group to use a segue?

Answer: That's hard to say. Explaining what a segue is can be a good start, and the importance of it. Then providing some examples of it. Some people may not want to use one, and that's okay if they can communicate in other ways clearly enough.

© 2013 David Livermore


Ced Yong from Asia on August 19, 2016:

Great tip! A speech without segues is like sprinting forever without changing your breath.

jim nantz on April 17, 2015:

much segue very wow