Writing a Lecture Tips


I have to give a 1 hour lecture in a few days to some first year students and could really do with some advice (there seems to be nothing online)! At the moment, despite doing far too much research and work I only have enough to fill half an hour. How do you fill time up? Is it best to write notes rather than sentences? How do you structure a lecture? Any tips gratefully received....


Will you have access to power point or an overhead projector? Think about whether you want to incorporate that into your presentation. I know there are highly mixed views on using them. Given however that people learn differently and a lecture is likely to have a huge mix of learning styles, I always go for their use if it is an option.
Remember the human brain shuts down after about 20 minutes in a lecture, unless the lecturer does something to change that--get the students to do something--more in a moment--that breaks that cycle to bring their attention span back.

Organising your lecture:
I like to have learning objectives--just three or four bullet points of what the lecture will cover.
Have a beginning, a middle and an end. Try to use the beginning/intro to build an interest in your topic. Can you use an example of a current event, controversy, or even just a made up example to illustrate your points in action?

After about 20 minutes--pose a question. Ask the students to take one minute and turn to the person next to them and exchange views/answers/etc.

Ask some questions then--even if its a large lecture theatre, you can coax a show of hands. Interact with your audience, and then start off again.

After another ten or fifteen minutes--the same again--a quick interchange for students with the person next to them, and then conclude your topic. Revisit the learning objectives in your conclusion and summarise what you have done.
The end!

Notes much better than sentences--nothing is more deadly dull than being read to!
Think of good public speakers--they change the cadence of speech. They pause. They look at the audience. Try to get yourself to do that.

If using power point or OHP--keep your points to about 3 per slide. No more. Use generously large font. Make judicious use of illustrations, clipart, whatever... a few lighthearted illustrations can be worked appropriately into a serious talk and keep audience attention.

Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact. Look at your audience!!!

Let your own personality shine through. Are you funny? Are you very serious but with a sarcastic twist? Are you shy? Whatever your personality is, project it when you speak. Done right, there is no harm telling students--this is my first lecture! I have done that, and said to the audience, and you didn't know you were going to get to play the role of experimental guinea pigs today did you when you came to class? making light of it but also inviting them into the lecture.

And enjoy it.

I know people hate public speaking...but really...if you are a little bit creative and have some fun with it, you can grow to love it!

Good luck, I am sure it will go well!


Goodness, thank you so much for that detailed reply Olivia! I shall bear all these points in mind as I re-draft this lecture! I'm terrible at improvising, especially when public speaking, so I'm a bit nervous about just having notes but it's true that being read to for an hour is rather unpleasant so I'll try to practice!


Well it was a bit of a disaster, I think my students hate me :S

Avatar for EV

Aw no Clairettte - surely it can't have been that bad? What happened?


Well, first of all I got the date wrong. I study in a different country to my uni and I must have count the weeks of term wrong, so that I missed the day I was supposed to give my lecture.... So everything has been rescheduled, and for that initial lecture they must have been sitting there getting increasingly angry at my non-appearance... (can't blame them)

As for the lecture, I tried my best to be friendly and make the difficult concepts easy etc, but at the end of the lecture, one student rather angrily asked me why I hadn't just recorded the lecture.

It's just quite frustrating when you try very hard to be friendly and feel this wave of apathy/anger in your direction :S Still, I have four seminars and a lecture with them to look forward to!


wow that student who told you u must have recorded the lecture is sooo rude!!! :@ You know you did your best and you can always improve.

i understand your non appearance might have caused you to get off on the wrong foot with these students. I know as at my University this is NORMAL for lecturers not to turn up... but hey we get a day off and thats it we move on. Its rude to talk angrily to lecturers. I just hope i wont be faced with such, tho i have been faced with cheeky students but i never take anything what they say at heart unless its serious... i know i always do my best and am doing nothing wrong so the problem is the student, especially if its only 1 out of a hundred.


I know, right? Argh, I'm just not very good at dealing with aggressive people but I guess you live and learn. Hopefully this will teach me to stand my ground in a way that will be useful academically...!

I have quite a long break before I see them next so there's time, thankfully, for a clean start.


Clairette.. its true you live and learn.. thats life :) and thats how we have come so far in this academic stage.. its all about trial and error .. its good you've got a long break before you see these students again... by then they might have changed or not .. it doesnt matter its their life .. you do your best and deliver the best lecture possible but I would not tolerate any rude people in class, i know it might sound as im a strict person but once when i used to teach English to foreign people i've had a very cheeky guy in my class and at the end of it i couldnt tolerate his rudeness and snarky comments and sent him out of class, obviously the guy wanted me to kick him out so that he could go to the beach.. after he left i turned to my other students and told them they could join him as well if they wanted to because i only want people who want to learn in class. Its not a matter of being good in class or not its a matter of trying of having an effort to learn...

so ye if i had your class and the same guy says something i would tell him ... that if he wanted to he could have asked his friend to record the lecture and give it to him :) case solved