Teaching Resources

Prepare Lectures: Tips  (printable sheet)
Disadvantages/Pitfalls of the lecture format:
  1. Passive learning - the least effective way of retaining information.
  2. Hard to identify and address needs/interests of individual learners
  3. Slide shows tend to accumulate too much tangential detail/data
  4. A/V mishaps and misadventures
Keys to success: What can you do to promote Attention & Retention?
  1. Know your audience - get specific details about what they want to learn ahead of time if possible and at least during the lecture.
  2. Approach this as a sales pitch - why should they care?
  3. Have clear and specific learning objectives & goals. The material should reflect these well.
  4. Adult learners are looking for pearls of wisdom – not volumes of information: identify the pearls in your talk.
  5. Provide a roadmap of the lecture with a clear outline and internal summaries
  6. Make as interactive as possible to engage the learners and monitor their understanding/interest
  7. Enthusiasm: excitement is contagious. Use your voice, phases, stories and body language to engage the audience and help them remember your lesson.
Before you begin: Advanced Preparation
  1. Focus: Is the topic given too broad for the time alloted? Is it too narrow? Discuss this with those requesting your lecture. What is the question they want you to answer?
  2. Time management: expect less available time than stated. (e.g. “one hour”=40 min after a 10 min late start + 10 min for questions). Most adults have trouble maintaining attention >20 min. Better to end 5 min early than 5 min late.
  3. Know your audience: adapt the focus and details of your lecture to the background, interests and expectations of the audience. Research this question if you don't already know the answer.
  4. Setting: room size, lighting, temperature, time of day, seating all impact the lecture experience. Modify what you can – adapt to the rest.
  5. Rules/Customs: How does this group approach questions and other formats? If you haven’t attended one of these lectures before make time to do so before your lecture if possible.
  6. A/V mishaps: If something can go wrong – assume it will. Trial any A/V modalities using the system in the room. Will the video run? Did the PC in the room alter the ppt program you created on your Mac? Bring several copies of your lecture in different formats (e.g. USB drives, e-mail, handouts). What would you do if your power point presentation simply would not run? Who is the A/V support person for that day?
Preparing the lecture
  1. Content – is it the right stuff? Is the information current? The material should support the goals and objectives. Don’t get carried away with extraneous information or aspects of the topic that won’t interest the audience.
  2. Organization: Use clear objectives, internal and final summaries to help the audience follow and remember the lecture.
  3. The Hook: Find a theme or novel lesson to engage the audience and make it memorable.
  4. Variety breaks monotony: Intersperse your monologue with pertinent stories, Q&A
  5. KISS (Keep is simple stupid) – your slides should require minimal explanation. If you feel the need to apologize for it then it should have been changed. Reduce text to the minimum needed to convey the information and consider breaking up a busy slide into multiple slides.
  6. A/Vs should support not distract. Keep animation to a minimum; pictures and sounds should be relevant – not simply to entertain. The best slide backgrounds are dark with light text without distracting images.
  7. Practice! Rehearse before each lecture, even if you’ve given this talk many times. Seek out honest critics whose feedback you value. Look for opportunities to give the lecture to small groups before you give it to a larger audience. Work on aspects of the design of the lecture as well as its deliver (4 P’s: pace, posture, pitch & presence)
Delivering the lecture
  1. Preparation: Arrive early and familiarize yourself with the equipment (microphone, advancing slides, laser pointers vs. using the mouse as a pointer) and setting.
  2. How to begin: Start the lecture by talking without using slides
    -Explain what you are going to talk about (why is it important, exciting).
    -Tell a brief amusing story
    -For non-local lectures: thanks for the invite, complement the institution, tell an amusing/complementary anecdote about your host.
  3. Easy on the pointer. Use a laser pointer only when details on a slide aren’t easy to highlight other ways. It is easy to distract the audience with the pointer – better practice to insert arrows into your slide ahead of time.
  4. Posture: Where are your hands? Avoid holding on to the podium, folding your arms or putting your hands in your pockets. Stand tall to convey confidence and authority. If technology (microphone, slide advance) permits, move away from the podium and get as close to the audience as you can.
  5. Voice: Can the audience hear you with or without the microphone? Your voice should help convey the excitement you have for the topic. Be aware of your pitch (tends to rise when nervous) and pace (tends to quicken when nervous). Vary both and use silent pauses and repetition for effect.
  6. Handling questions: Repeat the question – helps those who couldn’t hear the questioner and lets everyone know what you heard as well. Answer in a way that encourages questions but be ready to refocus the conversation if questions are getting too far off topic.
  7. Be yourself!. Remember – you were invited to teach. Take a deep breath if you are nervous. Make eye contact with a variety of audience members, smile and imagine you are simply speaking with 1 or 2 people.
After the lecture
  1. Feedback: Make sure you request and review evaluations and take criticisms seriously. Ask colleagues for constructive feedback.
  2. Edit now! Review your slides after the lecture and make notes on any areas where you felt the lecture didn’t flow. Consider the questions you were asked during/after the lecture. Did any suggest that the audience didn’t follow some aspects of the talk? Is there information you need to add? Did your lecture fit in the allotted time? If not, make a note that you need to adjust the length of the lecture. If yes, note that you can’t add material without removing other material.