How to Use a Segue in Public Speaking

U.S. President Barack Obama giving a speech.
U.S. President Barack Obama giving a speech. | Source

What is a Segue?

Basically, when you want to perform a segue, it means you want to smoothly transition 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 totally 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. | Source

How Segues Work

Below are some examples on how a segue can be used in other ways than public speaking. It's important to know how else a segue can be used, so it 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, they band proceeds to a cadence, then that cadence will lead to a new song. This is an effective transition.
  • Segue in literature. This is similar to what can be done in public speaking. When writing, usually certain words and phrases are used to make the transition from one topic to another.
  • Segue in television and movies. For example, in a television show there is a shot of a plane flying. The image then transitions to the interior of the plane. This is an effective segue.

An Example of a Speech Using Segues

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 can be different and unique to your speech. However, there are some tips you can follow when you want to perform an effective segue:

  • 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."
  • Use opposing words. If you are comparing two points that could be different, use words such as "yet"; "but"; "in contrast"; "however"; etc. This will advise your audience that you are switching to another topic.
  • 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.
  • Use linking words. Maybe you have two topics that are connected to one another. In cases like this, you will use words such as "and"; "also"; "the same as".
  • Use visuals. If you have a slideshow presentation, chart graph, etc. use those as a transition point. A visual cue could be the easiest to pick up by your audience.
  • Talk between topics. Ask if anyone in the audience has any questions, talk to the audience, etc. and then move on to the next topic.
  • Provide personal insight. Once the previous topic is done, talk about a personal story that may lead into your next topic, tell a joke, or anything that you can use to make a smooth transition.
  • Practice your segues. If you write your speech, then you will want to practice it as well. If the segue sounds forced and unnatural, scrap it and try for something else.
  • 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, and don't make them sound forced.
  • 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.

Mastering the Art of the Segue

Examples 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, it's stated that the vehicles sold below expectations. Then in the next line, it was mentioned that profits went up. There is no reason why this transition was made, and it makes no sense. Instead, it should have been stated like this:

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

The key words in the sentence above were "despite that". That showed a contrast and help transition from one topic to another.

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Comments 2 comments

CYong74 profile image

CYong74 2 months ago from Singapore

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

jim nantz 18 months ago

much segue very wow

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