Skip to main content

As a corporate trainer, you know that transitioning between topics or activities can be a challenging task. However, failing to do so smoothly and efficiently not only puts you in an embarrassing position but could also cost the company valuable resources. Consider this: for each learner’s salary, multiply that by the number of participants, the amount of time it takes you to get back on track, and the number of times you do it in a course. The total cost can run up to a staggering $10,000 per year. That’s a significant amount that could have been put to better use to improve the training program. So, to ensure that your training sessions are effective and cost-efficient, it’s crucial to master the art of seamless transitions. πŸ’ΌπŸ’°

$10,000 per year! Let’s do a double-click on the math.Β  Imagine you are an onboarding trainer, and you are delivering a fairly standard two-week onboarding course. Let’s start by just factoring in transitioning in and out of activities effectively, (not taking into account transitioning from one topic to another). Now let’s conservatively imagine that you have to take the class through two activities a day. During your two-week onboarding, you will take the class through twenty transitions. One transition into the activity, and one out of the activity, two times a day, for ten days, is forty transitions. Keeping with conservative numbers, let’s say that your transitions are costing you one minute on average, and you have twenty classes per year. This means that you have over thirteen hours (eight hundred minutes) wasted per year just on your transitions. β³πŸ’Έ

For simplicity’s sake, we will round down to thirteen hours. With an average of twelve employees that make $15/hour in each class, you are looking at $180/hour of wasted payroll and a whopping $2,340 per year per trainer of wasted payroll. Now, if you have four or more learning professionals in your department doing the same thing, you are upwards of $10,000 dollars, per year, in wasted payroll for failing to transition properly. πŸ’ΈπŸ’”

Obviously, the math is stretching it a little bit because we all know that those learners are going to be in that training room regardless if your company runs a two-week training course. But it can sometimes be an interesting perspective to take. Moreover, if was your manager, I wouldn’t want $10,000 to be coming out of my budget to pay for your crappy transitions. So, what constitutes a good transition? What are some pitfalls to avoid and some battle-tested transitions you can use? In this post, we will unpack some recommendations to help with all of the above. πŸ”πŸ“Š

Tip # 1 – The Cliffhanger Transition 🏞️

One of the best tips that I received late in my career was to never use breaks to transition, (lunch breaks, coffee breaks, or any other breaks). It stops the content, disengages the brain, and forces the facilitator to reengage learners with the content when they come back from the break. Instead, leave the learners with a cliffhanger when you are forced to transition right at break time. Here are some examples of what I mean:

“When we get back from break, we will discuss topic XYZ. Topic B will be of interest to you because it will impact your ability to XYZ.”


“When we get back from break, we are going to move on to topic XYZ. While you are on break think about how this might tie into what we have covered because you will be asked to share your thoughts”

You get the idea. Both approaches tease out what is coming next and imply why it is important to keep the learners’ brains engaged while on break. πŸ§ πŸ’‘

Tip #2 – The Summary Transition πŸ“

The summary transition is probably my most utilized transition. It is simple, easy to use, and provides the learner with reminders of what has been talked about so far. It might sound something like:

“Ok, we have discussed topics a, b, and c; now it’s time to dig into topic d.”


“We’ve talked about how to open a sales call, we’ve talked about how to ask consultative questions, and we’ve talked about making an offer. Now let’s dig into overcoming objectives.”

It’s a very smooth but easy transition. The best part is that if you have your agenda written somewhere, you can easily glance at it to find all you need to make the transition. πŸ“‹πŸ‘

Tip #3 – The Location Summary 🌐

I call this transition the location summary because it helps learners locate where they are on the journey of learning this content. It is especially useful in multiday training programs (like onboarding). It’s also most useful to help connect the dates for “journey” style courses that have a red thread over multiple days. Courses like sales cycles or customer journeys that can be long, stretch over multiple days and have a number of modules with a red thread connecting them all. It might sound something like:

“On Monday, we talked about our customer’s experience with us for the first one to four weeks. You may also remember that yesterday we talked about their journey from one to six months. Today, we are going to talk about the rest of their first year, and tomorrow, we will wrap things up with what happens after their first year. So let’s dive into the six to twelve month customer journey!”

As you can see, this transition is very similar to the summary transition with one major distinction. This transition highlights not just where you have been, but also where you are going. As stated previously, this is especially useful for multi-day programs. πŸ—“οΈπŸŽ―

Tip #4 – The Really Rather Reminds Me πŸ˜…

Every once in a while, I will get to the end of a module and, for whatever reason, just be a little out of sorts on how to transition. It’s usually something to do with a participant having a squirrel moment and I get thrown off my game for a moment. Like if I make some closing remarks at the end of the Microsoft SharePoint training and just before I transition, a participant asks me when the next paid company holiday is. In such a case, I use a little humor to remove any heat from the participant and hopefully get a smile out of participants as we plow forward. It might sound something like:

“Right then, that really rather reminds me of (insert whatever the next topic is), so let’s talk about that!”

When I deliver that transition I use a tone that is playful but also obviously sarcastic. Not to be confused with mean and obviously sarcastic. Just don’t use this transition all the time, it’s meant to get you out of a jam as needed. Not as a go-to favorite. πŸ˜„πŸ“’

Conclusion πŸŽ‰

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of transitions, my hope is that it will get you thinking about the types of transitions you use and how effective they are. Failing to transition well can have some pretty negative impacts on the classroom experience and it’s something that isn’t discussed enough. What are some of your transitionbest practices? Comment below or send me a message. πŸ’¬πŸ“©