Transition, Point, Illustration, and Takeaway
We all need certain landmarks in our messages to help point our audience in the right direction, but are you telling your audience how those landmarks string together? Our audience can only follow us where we lead them, so you need to help them understand why they’re there, what’s important about that, and how to get to the next point. To make sure those transitions between your point are present, Tamsen has developed the TraPIT method.
TraPIT stands for Transition, Point, Illustration, and Takeaway. The Transition is the actual words you use to get from one point to another: the question or statement you know the audience has in their head from your dialogic processing. The Point is the thing that they have to understand and agree with before you can move further. The Illustration of that point helps you make sure that you’re giving your audience an opportunity to see how that point works: quotes, stories, research, and more. Finally, the Takeaway is the conclusion they need to get once they understand your point.
What happens after you’ve reached a Takeaway? Start back at the beginning and address the next question that your audience has in their heads after they’ve processed your previous point. Start structuring your message in terms of TraPIT blocks, and you can make sure your audience is never lost.
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Let’s say you needed to go someplace new, but you didn’t have any directions to get there. How likely is it that you would actually arrive? Not very likely, right? So we need to think through that same thing when we’re trying to get people to follow directions or find their way to our new idea. We need to give them where to go when, and some markers to show that they’ve made the right turn. Otherwise, they may never get there. And aren’t our ideas too big, too important for that to happen? I think so, and that’s why we’re talking about a way to solve for that this week on Find the Red Thread, and I’m your host, Tamsen Webster of TamsenWebster.com.
Now I know you are not leaving out all of the information between where somebody starts with your new idea and where you want them to end up. Of course, you have all sorts of important points and illustrations, just like you would have important landmarks between somebody’s house and yours if you’re trying to give directions. But are you telling your audience, your reader, your customer how those landmarks string together? How they go from where they are to the first, to the second, to the third, to your house? If you’re not, then you are running a high risk that people won’t follow you to your new idea because they can only follow where you lead, and they’re only going to follow something that makes sense to them.
So what does this mean? It means that we need to do a couple things. We need to make sure that we are not only giving people information, but that we are attaching that information in a path, that we are giving them a Red Thread, if you will, to follow from where they are now, to where you want them to go. And we need to make sure that they’re getting enough information to understand why they’re there, what’s important about that, and how to get to the next point that you’re talking about, how to follow you logically to the next point.
Now, that’s actually pretty simple. So, there’s a process that I use with some of my clients and that I’ve developed over the years working with TEDx speakers to help writers as you’re putting your messages together come up with at least a draft way to make sure that those turn-by-turn directions, those transitions between points, are actually there. And I call it the TraPIT Method. Big T, little r, little a, P-I-T.
Now, what’s that all for? Well the T-r-a is for the “transition.” It is for the actual words that you’re going to use to move from one point to another. Now what are those words? Well, I just used one, and that was the question that was probably in your mind, that was the dialogic question from a previous episode that raised up in your head. Remember, even if we aren’t actually talking, you’re talking back to me in your head and so whenever you give a piece of information out, think about how somebody would react to it. What question are they going to ask? What’s the next piece of information they’re going to want? Not the next piece of information you want to tell, what’s the next piece of information they want? Use that as the transition.
Sometimes it’s going to be a question, “So, what are those words?” Sometimes it’s going to be a statement, “So, here are the words that are going to help you do that.” Either way, you put that transition first.
Now, I said it was TraPIT, so what’s the P? Well the P after the transition is the “point” that you’re trying to make. Think of that as the landmark, as the place that you know you need to get them to before they will go with you any further, that thing that they have to understand and agree with before they’ll move to the next point with you.
What’s the I? Well the I is the “illustration” of that point. That can help you make sure that you aren’t just giving people a whole bunch of information, but you are also giving them opportunities to see that information at work. Think of it back to our metaphor. It’s describing what the landmark actually looks like in addition to telling them where it sits at what intersection. Illustrations can be, as we’ve talked about in previous episodes, everything from quotes, to stories, to data and research, to thought exercises, application, live coaching if you’re doing it on stage. All of these things are ways to illustrate the point.
So, we have transition, point, illustration, and then the last T is “takeaway.” What’s the whole conclusion that they need to take from that particular point? You’ve moved them into the point, you’ve illustrated the point, what’s the takeaway from that point? What’s the new piece of information?
Now, the good news here is that once you give them that new conclusion, well here’s, this is what this means, now they’re going to say, “Great, I’ve reached this particular landmark, I understand why I’m here, I recognize it, I see why it’s important.” There’s going to be a new question in their heads, back to that dialogic piece. What’s that next question, what’s that next thing that they’re going to need to answer? So, your message, your piece of content, even, is just a series, really, of these little TraPIT blocks: transition, point, illustration, takeaway.
Transition, point, illustration, takeaway; you follow that, and no one will ever get lost on the path to your new idea. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of Find the Red Thread. If you did, please leave us a review on iTunes or think about subscribing on YouTube. I’m Tamsen Webster of TamsenWebster.com, and I look forward to seeing you again, or hearing you again, or knowing that you’re listening next week.