Tip 30: How to Make Lectures More Interesting

Academics have a tendency to lecture, as this is the way we learned. Some things, indeed, need lectures. But most of us can improve our lectures. Here are some simple ways that lectures can be improved.

Vary the voice style.

Move around the room.
There’s Joe’s picture plane. (He says that teachers tend to stay within a “window” away from the students, like there is a piece of glass between them/us and the students.) I go to a part of the room where I am not normally. Or I take two parts and move back and forth between the two spaces.

Keep lectures short.
Of course, I think 15 minutes is short and the students think 30 seconds is short.

Start the lecture with a question that the lecture is aimed at helping the students to answer.
For example, You will have to write an essay later giving examples for this question: “How has the world changed from Old English to Middle English times?” One of the examples you could discuss is women’s roles. Then I give my Old English lecture on women’s roles.

Include an activity or assignment immediately after the lecture that involves the lecture.
Example, “List five things that differ from Old English literature/culture that you could note and write down as we read through Medieval literature.”

Prepare a handout.
This could be the main points OR
it could be the important concepts left blank with some of the notes filled in.

Tell stories.
People like jokes; they like stories. Give them something they can relate to and let them hang the information on that.

In the discussion of content of literature of the era, I talk about informing the uneducated. One part of this was the stained glass windows, which told stories from the Bible and acted as a picture Bible.
I bring a picture of a stained glass window that matches what the literature is about.

Relate the new information to previous information.
Remember that OE/ME essay you have to write? This is the second half of the information you need to use.

Create an activity or an assignment that applies the new information to the overall themes of the course.
We are looking at the intellectual and moral aspects of literature. What part of the contextualization would help us identify these?
–Answer: Content. This is the section that lists things like “strong belief in faith” and “plays that instruct illiterate masses in morals and religion.”