Guidelines for Good Lectures
A good lecturer presents the audience with opportunities for meaningful engagement with the subject material and with the lecturer. Frame your lecture plans using these questions:
- What do you want the audience to learn?
- What are the key concepts that need to be addressed?
- What essential skills and competencies should participants have on leaving the lecture?
- How will all this be clearly communicated to the audience?
- State your objectives and why the students need to know the information you are about to present.
- Keep the flow of the material logical.
- Pace the delivery so that students have a chance to take notes.
- Speak clearly and use a high-quality microphone (headset).
Quality Over Quantity
It’s not how much is delivered but how much is understood and retained that is most important.A 1984 study by Russell et al. found that students learned and retained the lecture information better the lower the level of new content.
After briefly presenting new ideas, the remaining time was filled by restating, reinforcing and relating the material to the students’ prior learning.
- NEVER READ YOUR TEXT FROM THE SCREEN. Visuals should illustrate and expand on your narration, not provide you with karaoke prompts!
- There are documented negative effects to reading and hearing the same information simultaneously, aka cognitive load theory.
- Provide real-world examples of the points you are making.
- Use analogies to explain new concepts in terms of familiar ones.
- Present the information stated in your objectives.
- Recap your main points and provide questions for further thinking.
- Incorporate video, audio, and images when appropriate and relevant. Save extraneous resources for post-lecture activities.
- Believe it or not, students prefer to SEE you (not just hear you)! Record yourself whenever possible, even if you have to use your phone to do it.
Remember the Context
While some lectures can be used as standalone modules, for the most part your lectures will be framed within a course which has learning objectives and activities. Be sure every lecture has a clear relationship to the larger course objectives– if it doesn’t, why are you presenting it? Follow up with your objectives by providing an activity that displays their understanding of the content
The look and feel of your presentation speaks volumes, and an unpolished or boring PowerPoint can damage students’ perceptions of even the best and most well-articulated content. Use these tips to improve your presentations.
#1 Design Your Own Template or Ask for Help!
Built-in design layouts in PowerPoint are a dime-a-dozen and your students (and colleagues) have seen them all before. Even if your design is simply solid colors with no frills, that’s OK! In fact, solid colors can impart a very professional, modern impression. Try to use the same layout for all presentations in a single course.
#2 Readability Matters
Be sure that your images and text do not blend together and that text colors and backgrounds contrast sufficiently. This is not just good design but part of ADA standards compliance as well. Dark backgrounds are best for visibility and focusing attention.
#3 Use Quality Images
A bad picture is worse than no picture at all when it comes to presentations. Go for high-impact, high-quality images which you can find for free through:
- UF Libraries provides a site license for Artstor.org (this requires access through UF IP address or VPN)
- Remember to attribute your images
#4 Simpler is Better
One to three ideas per slide is ideal. Visuals do have much greater impact than text, so use them, but avoid unnecessary animations. Go for bold or italics when needed but skip drop-shadows, underlines, and other text decorations. Use contrast to your advantage and emphasize and stylize sparsely for greater impact.
Always remember that the slide should not be the ultimate source of content and information. Your speech should be! If you are saying everything you need to say through text on the slides, what’s the point of presenting it?
For more help with PowerPoint,view the LinkedIn Learning videos. Access them through the e-Learning @ UF website.