Lecturing in front of groups of students can sometimes be difficult or exciting. How do you prepare and structure your lecture? How do you present yourself to the group? How do you keep students focused and how do you handle difficult questions? There are no fixed answers to these questions, but there are some principles that help provide guidance.
Tips for preparation
Creating a lecture can be quite time-consuming. Lecturers often focus on all the things they want to tell, while not everything is relevant for the students. Here are a few tips to keep your content relevant.
- You don’t have to tell students things they can read on their own. It can save you a lot of time when you focus on what minimal knowledge students need to have and how to get them excited.
- Think of suitable and interesting examples. This not only helps to activate students by making the course material recognisable, but also makes sure they better remember your lecture.
- Use little text and lots of pictures. The combination of a fitting image with your explanation has an amplifying effect. This helps students retain knowledge of important subjects.
An unstructured lecture is hard to follow for students. That is why it is important to have at least some structure. Lectures always have an introduction, a core and a conclusion. The order in which you choose to present the core story can be alternated. For example, you might choose an order that best fits the interests of students.
The start of your lecture is the perfect moment to grab students’ attention. You could, for example, do this by starting with an anecdote or an interesting example. Furthermore, the start of a lecture emphasizes its importance to the rest of the course or the students’ future field of work. Never skip the introduction when time is short. Together with the conclusion, this is the moment that best sticks with students.
The middle part of your lecture contains most of the content. The core is filled with the knowledge you want to transfer to your students. Also explain what learning activities they can or must undertake. Try not to overcrowd the core. Are you unable to say everything you wanted to say in one lecture? In that case you could make use of, for example, educational videos to supply extra information outside of the regular lectures.
A good way to conclude your lecture is with a short summary. You can use this to clarify the most important learning objectives of the lecture, answer any questions students might have and give a short preview of the next lecture. With the help of Mentimeter you can test what students have learned during your lecture. Never skip the conclusion when time is short. Together with the introduction, this is the moment that best sticks with students.
Some lecturers are able to easily keep students’ attention for two hours and others might struggle a bit more. Logical, since not every lecturer is a natural born speaker.
Use of voice
One of the most important aspects of lecturing is making sure students are able to hear you well. You can do this by articulating clearly and speaking calmly. Adjust your tone of voice, don’t forget to take a sip of water every now and then or take a brief pause after asking a question. You can also use your voice to emphasize certain subjects. Using intonation, you let students know what parts are extra important to remember.
Posture and attitude
Your posture largely determines how you come across to students. Look for your strong side and make use of this. Not only your posture is of importance, but attitude as well. You could, for example, make use of humor or tell something personal to reduce the distance between you and your students.