10 Transition Phrases and Expressions for Conversations in American English

Ever wanted to acknowledge something that’s happening during a conversation, or describe a specific moment during a discussion?

Then this video will help!

In this video, you’re going to learn 10 expressions that we use to describe what’s going on, or what happened, during a conversation, discussion or interaction.

These phrases will help you transition or explain what’s coming next.

Or they’ll help you describe what happened during the conversation.

Let’s get started!


Having a Conversation About Conversations is Meta

First things first, I want to share a word that’s helpful to describe something that refers back to or references itself.

Because these are conversational expressions about conversations, they’re meta.

We use the word meta or the expression “That’s so meta” when something is about itself.

For example: a book about writing books, a movie about making movies, a song about singing songs or a conversation about having conversations.

When you’re talking about having a conversation about conversations, that’s very meta.

Here are some examples:

He wrote a book about the process of writing a book – that’s so meta! The reboot of that nineties TV show was really meta; the characters were trying to create a reboot of their original TV show.


Transition Phrases and Expressions About Conversations

Now let’s segue into even more expressions about conversations.

segue

When we transition smoothly between topics, we call this a segue.

The term comes from a smooth, easy transition in music, but we also use it for conversations and discussions.

You can use the word segue to describe the transition itself, or to point out that you’re about to transition between topics.

Let’s look at the examples:

  • Let’s segue into the next part of the presentation.
  • Your question is a perfect segue into my next point.

side note

Another expression that we use to transition into a topic is side note.

We start with “side note” when we’re intentionally going off-topic to make an observation or ask a question.

For whatever reason, you want to bring it up right then.

Here are some examples:

  • Side note – did you see who won last night? It was shocking!
  • Side note – I absolutely love your jacket. Where did you get it?

Usually something inspired you to share this, such as important news, something you remembered that you want to talk about, or something you’re observing.


(lose your) train of thought

And if an idea pops into your head that distracts you, you might lose your train of thought.

When you lose your train of thought, you forget the line of reasoning that you were following to get to your conclusion or main point.

In other words, you forgot how the ideas were connected to get to the point that you were trying to make.

We often admit that we lost our train of thought so that the other person gives us time to think, or reminds us of what we were saying.

Here are some examples:

  • Sorry, I lost my train of thought. What was I saying?
  • Just give me a moment; I lost my train of thought.

You can also say, “Sorry, I’m having trouble following your train of thought” to encourage them to explain better.


lull in conversation

Moving on, we have the phrase “lull in conversation.”

At times, even if you have a lot to say to someone, there will be a lull in conversation.

A lull in conversation is when everyone’s quiet because the topic has come to its natural conclusion.

If there’s a lull in conversation, you may decide to change topics, or the conversation will end (which is why some people worry when it happens.)

But as long as you’re all interested in continuing to talk, then the lull will naturally end.

It gives people time to think about what to say next.

Let’s look at the examples:

  • There was a lull in conversation, so I decided to change the subject.
  • We ran out of things to talk about, so there was a lull in conversation.

awkward silence

A related expression is awkward silence.

While a lull in conversation is natural, an awkward silence can feel uncomfortable.

An awkward silence may happen after someone makes a bad or even offensive joke, if people don’t understand what someone is saying, if one person isn’t interested in talking, or if someone makes a suggestion no one likes.

Sometimes we’ll acknowledge this quiet response, and we’ll simply say “Awkward silence!”

This usually gets people to laugh and move on to something else.

Here are some more examples:

  • After he made yet another bad joke, there was an awkward silence.
  • After the manager suggested budget cuts, an awkward silence filled the room.

moving on

An expression that can be super handy after an awkward silence is “moving on.”

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve used that phrase a few times during this video! It’s a really great transition expression.

If there’s been an awkward silence, or someone says something offensive, we will sometimes simply respond. “Moving on!” and change the subject.

By starting with the phrase “Moving on!”, it tells everyone that you’re not going to talk about what just happened; you’re going to move on to the next topic.

This expression can be helpful in the middle of an argument, if something unexpected happens, such as a distraction or someone drops something, and it breaks everywhere, and you just want to get back to what you were talking about.

You simply say “Moving on!” and you keep going.

For example:

  • Moving on – has anyone seen that movie that they’ve been advertising for months?
  • Moving on – what would you like for dinner?

You can also use “moving on” to simply transition into the next topic.

It helps suggest that you want to keep the conversation moving.

(That’s why you’ve probably heard me say it when moving on to another point in my videos.)


Expressions About Things We Do During Conversations

The last few expressions are about things that you may do during a conversation.

share / tell an anecdote

First, we have share or tell an anecdote.

When you’re trying to illustrate a point about someone’s personality, skills, or behavior, you may share an anecdote.

An anecdote is a short story that supports what you’re trying to say.

We often tell funny anecdotes about family members or friends in order to show aspects of their personality that everyone likes (or everyone’s amused by).

Anecdotes can be powerful examples in job interviews, or when you’re trying to describe a shared experience.

Anecdotes may also be short stories that are inspirational, or even hard to believe.

Here are some examples:

  • At my sister’s wedding, my mom shared funny anecdotes about when she got in trouble as a kid.
  • His grandfather loved to tell anecdotes about growing up on the farm.

inside joke

Related to anecdote, we have inside joke.

When you know people really well, you often have private jokes that make no sense to anyone else.

(It may not even sound funny to anyone else!)

This is called an inside joke.

If you feel left out because you don’t understand why everyone is laughing, someone may explain and say, “Sorry, that’s an inside joke from college.”

They may or may not try to explain the point of the joke.

We often use this phrase in the expression “get an inside joke.” If you don’t understand, you didn’t get the inside joke.

On the other hand, when you understand an inside joke, you’ll feel included and part of the group.

Here are some examples:

  • I didn’t understand why everyone was laughing, until he explained that it was an inside joke.
  • My college friends and I have a bunch of inside jokes from dorm life.

give [someone] a pep talk

Now let’s talk about giving someone a pep talk.

When you need to encourage someone, you may choose to give them a pep talk.

A pep talk is a short, emotional, encouraging, inspirational speech that helps people feel more confident.

We often give people pep talks before a big performance or a game.

Or we may give someone a pep talk when they’re about to take a risk, and they need to believe in themselves.

Let’s look at the examples:

  • A few days before the deadline, the boss gave us a pep talk saying that he believed in us.
  • Before the piano recital, her mom gave her a pep talk, and reminded her that she was prepared and ready to perform.

deep dive

Last but not least, let’s talk about the expression deep dive.

A deep dive is an in-depth analysis of a topic.

A deep dive is often especially interesting to a smaller group of people.

At work, you may do a deep dive into your market or competitors to really understand them.

If you’re obsessed with a certain topic, you may do a deep dive into it.

Here are a few more examples:

  • During the meeting, we’ll do a deep dive into the sales figures from last year.
  • I’m fascinated by a certain director, so I did a deep dive into his early work.

Your Turn

Now that you have all of these expressions about interesting moments during conversations, be sure to try them out!

You’ll also start noticing when people use them in conversations, and now you understand exactly what they mean.

You can also check out this video with 11 super common conversation expressions that I personally use on a regular basis.

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