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Engaging Lectures


Last Updated:
September 14, 2023

First Published:
March 8, 2022


Engaging lectures keep your audience focused while providing new insight and stimulating thinking and analysis. Active lecturing can motivate your audience to develop new skills and think in new ways.

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  • Interactive lecturing engages learners and makes them active participants in the learning process: “Interactive lecturing is useful for… [those who] aim to do more than transmit information. Rather than simply presenting material, [educators] embed a well-planned, engaging presentation within a sequence of activities that help students understand, process, apply, and retain new information” (Barkley & Major, 2018, p. 16). Barkley, E. F., & Major, C. H. (2018). Interactive lecturing: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass Inc.

  • Learner motivation and engagement are influenced by the ways in which you present material: “Thinking about delivering high quality content in the lecture is essential, but the approaches you plan to use to present your lecture are more important. How would you engage your students? What diagrams, illustrations, images or mini-videos would you include in your lecture? What are the educational objectives of your lecture? And if you want to introduce one new concept, idea or skill to your students, what would it be?” (Azer, 2009, p. 110).

  1. Break lectures into segments and ask students to reflect on problems, issues, or topics at regular intervals. Integrate frequent checks for understanding (CFU).

  2. Know your audience – Who are my students? What do they know? How can I motivate them to learn this information?

  3. Prioritize your audience – Activate prior knowledge. Organize the lecture thoughtfully and then share that organization structure with the audience. Summarize frequently. Pause after important points and after asking questions. Use visuals, but not too many.

  4. Focus attention on the speaker – Don’t use too many slides and rush through them. (Aim for 1 slide per minute.) Provide examples and analogies. Limit the amount of information on each slide. (5×5 rule. No more than five lines of five words each.)