Seamless Transitions

By Heather Baldwin

You’ve heard it a dozen times before and probably used it in every one of your team presentations – the big handoff. The big handoff occurs when one presenter concludes her pitch and announces the next presenter and the topic he’ll be covering. Then presenter number two stands up, thanks the previous speaker and re-states his topic. It sounds like this: I’ll now turn it over to Greg Smith who will talk to you about the budget. Then Greg stands up and says: Thank you very much, Sally. As she mentioned, I’m going to cover the proposed budget with you.

The transition is dull, heavy handed and a waste of words, says Gary Hankins, author of The Power of the Pitch (Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2005) and founder of Los Angeles-based Pygmalion, a company that helps people become great communicators (www.transformingpeople.com). Next time, says Hankins, use a seamless transition that shifts from one speaker to another and one topic to another as though it were one presenter making the change. In an advertising pitch, Hankins says it would sound like this.

Sally: …So we urge you to engage us to create a consistent brand image for you that will allow you to dominate the market. (She then steps to the side and Greg steps up).

Greg: Creating a consistent brand image that will allow you to dominate the market could conservatively double your revenues over the next 12 months. We’ve created a budget at a fraction of this revenue goal.

Seamless transitions keep the presentation flowing without the jerky stopping and starting of big, formal handoffs. But they’re not as easy as they look. The key to making transitions work is to be standing close to the front of the room when it’s your turn to speak so there’s no delay. “If there’s a lapse in time, it’s not going to be seamless,” says Hankins. “Of course, be sure to practice the seamless transition in your rehearsals.”