The Art of Using Transitions

The Art of Using Transitions

Learning Objective: To understand when and how to utilize effective transitions in facilitation.

What are transitions and why are they important?

Transitioning is the process of changing from one activity or curriculum piece to another. Too often, facilitators make the mistake of not considering their transitions when planning their facilitation. This usually results in facilitators telling their groups, “Now we’re going to do (insert name of activity here)” without establishing how this activity connects to previous activities or their overall goal. While it is not necessarily wrong to do things in this way, it leaves the overall facilitation feeling like a set of separate parts instead of one cohesive session. This is why effective transitioning is important: effective transitions unify the different parts of your session and allow you to use the different parts to build on each other.

How to use transitions

The first step to effectively using transitions is effective preparation. When planning a session, it is always important to keep transitioning in mind when deciding the order of the curriculum you have selected. Here are some important steps for incorporating transitions into your sessions during the preparation process:

  1. Understand the different parts of your session – this means having a strong grasp of what you want to accomplish by including each curriculum or activity.
  2. Identify ways that different parts are related – try to connect different curricula or activity by what you expect them to accomplish.
  3. Order the parts of your session so that related parts follow each other – here especially, consider how different parts can build on each other and order your session so that you can draw from the preceding parts of the session with each new curriculum or activity.

After the preparation process, utilizing transitions during your facilitation should be relatively straightforward. Generally, when transitioning between different parts of your session, you want to show your group how the two parts connect to each other or how they connect to the overall goals of the session. This can be done with a sentence or question. For example, when transitioning from Leadership Mosaics to an experiential activity, an appropriate transition would be, “Now that we’ve learned about the different colors, let’s further examine how these colors interact in this next activity.”

As you become more comfortable as a facilitator, you will find many different ways to transition between curricula and activities. In fact, many skilled facilitators have their own styles when transitioning. The key lies in being mindful of transitions and practicing them whenever appropriate.