Have you ever noticed that sometimes it feels like the presenter is guiding you on a journey with his or her speech? When considering a speech, a signpost is crucial as it helps to keep the audience’s attention and navigate them through the speech.
What is signposting in Speech?
A signpost is a verbal statement or visual cue used by the speaker to guide or engage the audience while bringing them through the various stages of a speech or presentation.
Signposts can be displayed as a physical change of direction or a deliberate movement of the speaker. It is a speech technique that helps you connect what you’re about to say next with what you said previously.
In this article, you will learn more about the types of signposts and the examples of signposting for effective audience engagement.
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Types of Signposting in Speech
- Single Words Signposting
- Short Phrases Signposting
- Whole Sentence or Long Phrases Signposting
1. Single words signposting
You can use signpost during a speech with single words like; initially, however, furthermore, etc.
2. Short phrases signposting
Signposting can be achieved with short phrases such as; in conclusion, in contrast, an additional point is, etc.
3. Whole sentence/Long phrases signposting
Long phrases can also be used for signposting, and they include: having discussed the liability of the research, I want to leave you with the following thoughts, this report will next address its validity, etc.
4. Visual Cues Signposting
Visual images or text can be used when delivering presentations or speeches with supplementary visual aids. I can signal to the audience that it’s time for a Q&A without necessarily saying it, by just pausing and sharing the slide that says/shows it.
How to Effectively use Signposting in Public Speaking
Alex Lyon, Communication skills expert and coach, shares a ton of valuable insights and tips on youtube about how to become a better speaker and presenter. Here’s a video on how to more effectively use signposts in public speaking.
Examples of Signposts in Speech
- Moving to a new point
After concluding a point or an idea, and you are about to go onto the next point during a speech, the audience must know you are moving to a new point.
Examples to use while moving on to a new point:
“Now, let’s move on to point number 3, where we will be discussing…”
“Moving on to the next point”
“Now that we have discussed…, I would like to talk about…”
From these examples, you can see how indicative the language of movement is, taking the audience from one point to another.
Just like what most tour guide says “moving on” or “time to move on” when they are through in a particular area and needs to go to a new area. You can as well use it in speeches.
- Going into more details on a point
If you need to go into details on a point or about a topic, the use of signposts gives the audience the signal of expansion.
Examples to use:
“Let me talk more in-depth about…”
“By focusing on…in detail, …”
“To be more precise….”
“Expanding on that point…”
Using these signposts will enable the audience to know there is more information coming on a particular topic or area. It also makes the audience aware that the speaker is still on the same topic but will be discussing it in more details.
- Introducing an alternative or opposing view
When you make a point during a speech, you might want to give an alternative view of that point you made. With this, you give the audience the opportunity to evaluate both sides.
“In contrast, …”
This signpost gives the audience a clearer idea of what the speaker is conveying.
- Changing a topic entirely
When trying to change a topic completely, it is of high importance that the audience are aware so that they can go along with you on the journey.
“Now, let us turn to something entirely different…”
- Talking off-topic for a moment
When giving a speech, it is often proper to go off tangent for a moment. The purpose of going off point is to express another crucial point that is loosely related to the main topic.
“As a side note…”
“Going off on a tangent, I would like to discuss…”
“Let me deviate…”
Going off on a tangent during a speech sometimes help get or bring back the audience’s attention.
- Continuing a point with a related one
After making a point during a speech, you might want to add a related point to the one made already. By so doing you create a connection between both points.
“To further understand the…”
- Repeating points stated earlier
A weighty technique used in a speech is repetition as it helps to pass across important messages to the audience.
“This is really important, therefore, I am going to say it again…”
“Recapping on the previous point I made about…”
“Let me repeat that…”
The use of repetition as a signpost during a speech is to attract audience-specific attention to a key message as well as to give it more emphasis.
- Going back to previous points of examples
Sometimes during a speech, there might be the need to tap from an earlier given example in order to make your points well understood by the audience.
“Remember when I said…”
“Let’s go back to the story where I…”
“Going back to the time when…”
This mostly occurs when you tell a story at the beginning of your speech. You may be able to draw a lot of learnings from that particular story.
So, all through your speech, you will continually need to refer to that very story by reminding the audience about the story. By so doing, the audience can have one or two things to learn from the story as you proceed with your speech.
- Summarizing the points
Summaries are quite important when giving a speech. You create a point, elaborate the point, and then summarize that very point.
Summarizing a speech gives the audience a better understanding of the information you have passed across to them in a nutshell.
“In summary, …”
“Summarizing what we talked about…”
“To summarize the report…”
A summarized signpost provides a way of generating relevant points for the audience in a simplified version.
- Concluding/Wrapping up
When rounding up a speech, it is of great importance to use a concluding signpost as it enables the audience to know you are about to end your speech.
“As I conclude…”
“To close this off…”
“From this, it could be concluded that…”
“In closing, let me say…”
When the audience hears a concluding signpost, they often pay more attention because they can pick up somethings they must have missed during the main speech.
Visual Signposts in Speech
It’s not just about what we say to connect to the next phase of our speech that is included in the different signposts we can use in a speech or presentation, but also what we show.
For instance, as you are closing your presentation and share your final remarks, you may go into a Q&A session and showcase an image saying that. (We shared this above)
After going through all the phases of delivery of your speech, you can also share a final THANK YOU slide, which will signal the END of your presentation for the audience.
During a speech, signposting is of high relevance as it is the verbal statement that can be used to engage the audience. It aims to draw in and maintain the audiences’ attention all through the speech.
A speech without a clear structure will fail to win the audience’s interest, whereas an effectively used signposting gives the audience confidence and helps them navigate their way through the speech.
References and Further Reading
A summarized PDF file from Hawaii.edu. Signposts in Speech
AcethePresentation. Transitions in Speech: 69 Speech Transition Statements
Ryan Mclean. What is Signpost in Public speaking? 9 Examples.
Speak for Success. Public Speaking Signposts: Verbal, visual, and Occupy Wall Streets signs
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