Select the right words. Say them well.

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Did you ever feel the discussion getting away from you? It’s easy for it happen as a conversation moves quickly from point to point. Whether you are in a job interview, a media interview or in front of a meeting making a presentation, the train can go off the tracks.

The good news is there are some quick ways to get the conversation moving in the direction you want it to go. The greatest key comes in the form of “transitional phrases” that can be your best friends. The transitional phrases offer you a roadmap back to the key points you need to emphasize.

Look at some common scenarios:

1. A new idea is introduced through the normal course of conversation and suddenly the focus of the entire discussion has changed. The transitional phrase that gets you back on course is, “I think what’s really important for all of us is …” or “You know what we really need to remember here?”

2. An objection is raised and suddenly the last 5 minutes have been spent on negative issues. The transitional phrase here is “I think we may have lost track of our goal here …” or “Let’s remember we’re here to find solutions …”

3. The focus of discussion starts to look backward, with a recollection of past issues, often when previous decision makers were in charge. The transitional phrase? “Here’s the new information we have for you …” or “We’re ready to turn a new page and here’s how …”

4. Completely incorrect information has been introduced in the conversation and it would be uncomfortable to tell someone outright that they are wrong. How about “Actually, what’s important to understand here is …” or “You know, our experience is quite different. Let me quickly tell you about it …”

This is just a sampling of some of the great tools available to anyone who goes into any important communication opportunity with a plan. If you’ve noticed your important points getting lost along the way, be ready to reach for the life preserver offered in the form of a transitional phrase.

Do you have examples from your experience? I’d love to hear from you. Have a great May!