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What Is A Signpost In Public Speaking? 9 Examples




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Signposts are important verbal statements used during a public speech to engage the audience and bring them through the different stages of your presentation.

Why Use A Signpost In Public Speaking?

Audience members have short attention spans and as a public speaker you need to work hard to continually capture their attention.

By taking audience members on a journey, as well as letting them know where abouts on the journey they are allows you to maintain their attention on you so you can continue to deliver your message.

If the audience doesn’t understand where you are going with your talk, or how long they will have to listen they will often tune out.

Signpost Public Speaking

So just as sign posts are used on the road to show you that your exit is in 3.4 miles (or km) signposts in public speaking are used to give the audience a sense of orientation.

Examples of Signposting

Below are some example of a signpost that you would use when you are speaking in public. These are very natural terms so you shouldn’t need to “memorize” them, but it is good to begin using them in your presentations.

Here are 9 examples of signposts that you can draw on an use in your own speeches.

1. “Moving On” To A New Point

If you have finished a point or concluded an idea and you want to go onto your next point it is important to let audience members know you are moving on.

Examples:

  • Moving on to my next point

  • I’de now like to move on to point #2 where we will be discussing X

See how the language is indicative of movement? You are taking your audience from one place to another.

Just like a tour guide says “time to move on” when you are finished in an area and going to a new area you can do the same thing in your speeches.

2. Changing Your Topic Completely

When you are changing your topic completely it is important to let your audience members know so they can come along on the journey with you.

This is where we ‘turn to’ a new topic. Just like turning the page to a new chapter of a book, or turning the car to go in a different direction.

Examples:

  • Now let’s turn to something completely different

  • Now, turning to our plans for the future

3. Going Into More Detail

If you want to go into more detail about a topic our signpost is designed to give people the visual cue of expansion.

We “expand” or “elaborate” or or “talk in depth”

Examples:

  • Let me elaborate on that

  • Expanding on that idea…

  • I want to talk more in depth about…

By using this signpost we are letting people know that we are going to provide them more information.

In their minds they are now aware that we are still discussing the same topic, but we will be discussing it in more detail.

4. Talking About Something Off Topic For A Moment

When giving a speech it is often appropriate to go off on a tangent. The goal of a tangent is to deliver another important point which doesn’t fit in directly with your speech.

Just as if you were driving north and you took a detour east to see a famous landmark and then you continue north we are doing the same thing in our speech.

Examples:

  • Let me digress

  • As a side note

  • Going off on a tangent I believe it is important to discuss…

5. REPEATING Points Stated Earlier

Repetition is an important technique in public speaking for getting a key message across to the audience.

While repetition can be done without the use of a signpost, a signpost can be used to draw specific attention to the repetition as to give it more emphasis.

Examples:

  • Re-capping on the previous point I made about…

  • Let me repeat that

  • This is really important so I am going to say it again

6. ‘Going Back’ To Previous Points of Examples

Sometimes during a speech it is important to revisit a particular point on example to draw another learning from it.

This might occur when in the beginning of your speech you tell a story. You may be able to draw multiple learnings from that one story.

So throughout your entire speech you will continually need to go back to that story and remind the audience of the story and draw the learning from it.

Examples:

  • Going back to the story where I…

  • Let’s go back to the time when…

  • Remember when I said…

7. Summarising A Point

Summaries can be really important when giving a talk. You create a point, expand on that point and then summarise that point now that people have the new information you have given them.

This helps them remember the point better and understand the point in a simplified version.

The summarise signpost also provides a way for you to provide audience members with a simplified version of important content (eg. summarising a long winded report means pulling out the relevant stuff for your audience).

Examples

  • Summarising what we just talked about…

  • To summarise

  • In summary this report found

8. Re-capping an Important Statement or Idea

Re-capping is a very similar signpost to repetition or summarisation but is used in different scenarios.

Eg. You would repeat an important point directly after you just said it, but you would recap what someone said in a presentation before you or you would recap main points towards the end of your presentation.

Examples:

  • Re-capping what the previous speaker just discussed

  • Let me re-cap what we have already covered

NOTE: You can also sometimes use the “go back” signpost to replace the “re-cap” sign post.

9. Wrapping Up Your Presentation

When you are finishing up your presentation it is important to use a signpost to let people know you are concluding.

People will often pay more attention as the end because they know that if they missed anything they can probably pick it up here.

Examples:

  • I’de like to conclude

  • In closing, let me say…

  • If I may conclude

  • To finish up

  • In conclusion

  • To close this off

In Summary: What Is A Signpost In Public Speaking?

A signpost is a verbal statement used to orientate the audience inside your speech or presentation or to show them where you are going.

A signpost draws in the audiences attention and aims to maintain their attention through the presentation or public speech.




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