We know an effective lecture by how engaged we feel during the presentation. A good lecturer creates and sustains a powerful relationship between the students and the subject of the lesson. The key to building such a relationship is interaction. The students must experience a need or desire to enter into this relationship and to remain entangled.

They must want to participate. One effective technique is to orchestrate the students into an inquiry mode whereby they, for lack of a better phrase, experience questions. We can witness Inquiry-based learning in all stages of human development; yet, as prevalent as it is, its epistemology remains only partially described. Why is this? To say that learning is goal-oriented (or object-oriented) begins the "inquiry into inquiry," but what is the goal of a child's wonder? Or our own when presented with something completely superfluous to anything practical but which still somehow captivates us? The following quote offers practical insight:

In short, the aim of the curriculum is to awaken, not "stock" or "train" the mind. That goal makes the basic unit of a modern curriculum the question. Curriculums should therefore be organized around essential questions to which content selection would represent (necessarily incomplete and always provocative) "answers." All student inquiry, specific labs and assignments, and final exams would be used to ascertain the degree to which the student understands the question. -- Grant Wiggins

Following this advice, an effective lecture would begin with a question that "awakens" the students to the subject for the day. Find a good "driving" question to start off. A good driving question is one that isn't easily answered but is one that connects all aspects of the lesson together and that evokes curiosity and desire. You may need to tell a short story before asking the question in order to give it a context and to set the students up for the question. But once asked, an effective question should be "felt" by the students. The end of the lecture should then come back to this driving question in a way that allows students to demonstrate their better understanding of the problem and its relevance.

Bloom's Taxonomy

This list, especially the "cognitive objectives," provides a helpful way to categorize "what we want students to learn or perform." It is useful to keep these objectives in mind when crafting a lecture or activity, to ensure the activity chosen corresponds well with your goal.

Effective Lectures: Best Practices

Speak Engagingly (not like this)

Verbal (words you say): 7%
Vocal (how you sound when you say them): 38%
Visual (how you look when you say them): 55%.


Before Class:

During Class:

After Class:

A Final Note regarding PowerPoint

PowerPoint has become a fixture in many lecture-oriented classrooms. And while this tool can be an incredibly useful tool to assist you in the classroom, it should only be relied on to supplement your delivery of content and engagement with students. There are a few rules regarding the development and delivery of PowerPoint presentations that seem to be common sense, but as Will Rogers observed and noted, "Common sense ain't necessarily common practice!"

Here are our "Top 10 DOs and DON'Ts"

  1. DO follow the 6 x 6 rule (no more than 6 lines per slide, 6 words per line)
  2. DON'T cram in too many slides and rush (or skip slides)
  3. DO choose templates, colors, & fonts carefully
  4. DON'T overpower content with animations & sound effects
  5. DO use grammatical parallelism
  6. DON'T use generic / poor quality / too many images
  7. DO use visuals to simplify or reinforce message
  8. DON'T use complete sentences or long passages of text
  9. DO use section dividers to "chunk" content
  10. DON'T use transitions between slides of same style

And just to drive the point home, with a bit of humor, watch this...http://youtu.be/P4dp8KdDCZc

There are tons of websites dedicated to familiarizing you with advanced PowerPoint tips and tricks; here is one:

Best Practices from YouTube

The following YouTube video contain some valuable, practical wisdom related to lecturing: