Update 2015-12-11: Updated vocabulary & other links.
In a presentation, signposting is giving the audience information about where they are in the presentation and where they'll be going.
For example, signposting includes saying something like this at the beginning of a presentation:
In presentations, a transition is the action / process of finishing one topic and moving to another.
The University of Portsmouth's School of Languages and Area Studies (SLAS) has produced a useful short video (about 10 minutes) about making presentations, including parts about signposting and transitions (starting at 5 minutes and 19 seconds). (It's for making academic presentations, but the advice is still useful for business presentations.)
It is available on Chinese video site Youku.
I'll put below a transcript I made of what is said in the video.
I'll also give links to some Chinese pages with transcripts in both English & Chinese, but please note that there are some errors in the English transcripts on those pages. And I can't say if the Chinese translations are good.)
The female speaker is Rosemary Jane (represented in the transcript by the initials "RJ" and red text).
The male speaker is John Cross (represented in the transcript by the initials "JC" and blue text).
1: Giving a Presentation
Hello, my name is Rosemary Jane. And I'm a senior tutor here at the University of Portsmouth, where I teach English for academic purposes.
On this short video, I'm going to teach you about how to make an academic presentation.
I know that many of you worry about how to make a presentation, you worry about the structure. But if you follow the guidelines in this video, you won't have any trouble at all.
2: The Introduction
It's very important at the beginning of a presentation to introduce yourself, to tell your audience your name and why you are qualified, or how you are qualified, to give the talk that you are going to give, to make sure that the audience know the title of your presentation, that they know roughly what you are going to be talking about, that they know how long it's going to take and, very importantly, they know when they can ask questions.
You are going to watch a teacher giving an academic presentation about how to make a presentation and I want you to notice how he introduces himself.
Good afternoon, everybody. And thank you for coming to this presentation this afternoon.
My name is John Cross. I'm a senior university tutor here in the School of Languages and Area Studies.
I'm going to talk to you this afternoon about academic presentations, how to give an oral academic presentation.
That's a very important thing for all students. As you know, you have a lot of assessed oral presentations on your courses here in SLAS and in other parts of the university. It's a very important part of your student life.
Firstly, I'm gonna talk about the structure of a presentation.
The second part, we'll go into more detail about the elements of that structure.
Thirdly, I'm going to talk about something called signposting.
Signposting... How to...uh... make the audience follow what you're saying, giving directions, that's the third part.
And the fourth part: how to make what you're saying easy to understand, how to make yourself clear to your audience.
Fifthly, I'm gonna talk about the importance of conclusions - summing up what you have said.
And the last, and the sixth, part is about questions: how to ask for and deal with questions from your audience.
3: Transitions & Signposts
After you've introduced yourself and outlined your talk, you'll make your first transition.
By transition, I mean the things that you would say to let your audience know that you are moving on to a new point.
What you're doing is telling the audience that the point that you have been talking about is finished and you're ready to start a new point.
So you'll say something like:
... simple words like "next" and "then", numbers, "first", "second", "third", "finally".
Even little gestures:
Changing in the pitch of your voice. If you say something in a slightly higher pitch:
OK, let's move on to the fourth part...
You would use a phrase like that to introduce each new point in your presentation. So now, for example, you are moving from your introduction to your main body, you need to let the audience know that the presentation is about to begin and at each point you tell them the same thing.
OK, that's my introduction, let's start with the first part.
The first part is about the basic structure of an academic presentation.
You could say that there are three fundamental parts: the introduction, the main body and the conclusion.
The main body is the biggest part, the introduction and the conclusion are relatively short.
The introduction should tell the audience what you are gonna talk about.
The main body should develop those themes or points in more detail in the order that you have introduced them in your introduction.
The conclusion should pick out the main points from the main body and summarize them for your audience.
So the conclusion is very similar to the introduction, in fact.
Er, now I'm gonna talk about the third part, the third thing, which as I said, is signposting.
Now you can think about signposting in this way:
When you're out in the street, walking around or in your car or on your bicycle, you can see a lot of signposts around you.
The signposts tell you how fast you can go, where the place you want to go is, how to get there, tell you to turn left, tell you to turn right, tell you to stop, that kind of thing.
Now, go back to the presentation.
In the presentation, the signposts also tell the audience the direction they're going, when they're gonna get there, where they are at that moment, where to stop and move on to something else.
And even right at the end when you've finished your main body and you're about to conclude your presentation, he used another signpost and there are a lot that you can use.
For example, you could say:
4: Helping your audience understand
One of the things that is very important in a presentation is that you help your audience to understand you and there are a number of ways that you can do this.
The first is to remember that you're having a conversation with them, albeit a one-sided conversation.
You're not giving a lecture and you're not reading from a script or from your Powerpoint screen.
You have to maintain eye contact by looking at everybody in your audience while you're talking to them.
About body language, make sure that you are not, um, distracting your audience by certain mannerisms, such as scratching your head or blowing your nose or sticking your hands in your pocket or wandering around in front of them.
After this point, I couldn't get the video to play properly (hopefully it will play OK for you) so the rest of the transcript is based on those Chinese sources I gave earlier, with my own improvements and guesses.
You need to think about key words and how you can use particular words to help your audience understand what you are talking about, maybe putting these words [???].
You need to think about your intonation, about stressing (#2) important words, like key words. You need to think about your voice and how loud or how quiet it is. And perhaps introducing some different kinds of speeds, and not make it all sound the same. Pausing after important points to let them sink in before you begin the next point.
OK. Coming down to the main point, I'll say being clear is important. And the way you speak, the way you look at your audience, the words that you choose, are all important elements in that.
5: The Conclusion
You need to finish your presentation very strongly so that they will go out with very good memories of you as a presenter and your ability to cover your topic well. You need to make a transition or a signpost to [find?] that you are going to make your conclusion.
OK. So, that brings me to the end of my presentation. And I've talked about how to give an oral academic presentation I said that it's very important for all the students. In fact, of course, it's important for the teachers too. That's part of our job.
And in my presentation, I talked about six main things.
I've talked the basic structure of an oral presentation.
Then I went deeper into some details about those elements of the structure. That was secondly...
Thirdly, I talked signposting. What are signposts and how to use them.
I talked about, fourthly, how to make yourself clear, how to make what you say easy to understand for the audience.
Ah, the fifth thing was the importance of summing up, making a conclusion to your presentation.
And sixth, and last, I talked about how to encourage and manage questions from the audience."
And when you've done that, before you sit down, you have to remember to invite the audience to ask you some questions.
OK. That's it. Thank you very much for listening. And now, any questions?
Do I have to have a conclusion in all my presentations?
I think a conclusion is very important. It's very helpful to the listeners to have the main points of your presentation [picked out?] one more time, so, yes, all presentations need a conclusion.
"OK. Thank you "
End of transcript
G.A.L.E.S.L. / joe3
Some tips and links on learning English.