Want to look smooth? Master your Baton Changes

30th January 2024

When athletes run a relay race, the riskiest time is the Baton Change. The handover. When they transition from Runner A to Runner B.

Similarly, when we communicate, one risky time is the Baton Change. The handover. When we transition from Topic/Speaker A to Topic/Speaker B.

Because, when we don’t do it well, it isn’t smooth. It feels clunky. We lose our pace. We may lose our audience.

So let’s fix that.

Here are some simple Baton Change phrases that work well:

#1 – When you’ve reached agreement, and now need to agree next actions

Baton Change = “Great – so we’re agreed. Let’s now quickly confirm what our next action should be.”

The first sentence confirms the previous topic (the discussion) is complete. The second moves it to where we want to go next.

#2 – When we want to hurry-up a meeting (for example – because Topic A is taking too long, or we’re about to over-run)

If Topic A is taking too long, Baton Change = “I’m conscious of time. This conversation’s useful. But we’re getting into lots of detail. And we still have Topic B to discuss. Let’s take the detail offline – ok?”

Or if your meeting looks like it’ll over-run, say – with ten minutes to go – Baton Change = “I’m conscious of time. And we have a hard stop at 10am. So let’s quickly agree our actions now, so we can end on time.”

Again, the first half of these confirms we need to end the previous topic. And the end moves it to where we want to go next.

#3 – When you’re discussing a potential solution to a challenge, and want to transition to telling a success story you’ve previously had

Baton Change could be “You sound like Jack! He’s one of my customers. Six months ago, he said the same thing you just said. Since then, we’ve been working together, and he’s already made an extra £10million. Can I quickly explain what worked so well for Jack – I think it might help us here?”

They’ll say yes (who wouldn’t?!)

Transition complete!

#4 – When doing a presentation, and you want to transition from Speaker A to Speaker B

When Speaker A ends, Baton Change = “So, now that I’ve explained how the finances will work – I’ll hand to Megan, who’ll discuss the impact on our people.”

The first half uses the past tense – “I’ve finished now”. The second uses the future, introducing the next speaker and her topic.

And then when Megan speaks – it’s smooth and easy. No awkward intros from her. She can just crack on.

And here’s another example of #4 for you…

“So, now that I’ve explained four examples of how to better transition…

Action Point

… the next step is for you to identify when you can first use one of these Baton Changes to be more seamless, natural and impressive.

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