You stand in front of a lecture theatre, barely at half of its capacity. You desperately hunt for the eye contact of an un-interested 19-year-old whose only concern is ticking their name off of the attendance sheet.
It may be your first time behind the podium, or you might be a seasoned-veteran in the war of getting the youth to learn. Regardless, lectures are a necessity of the tertiary education system – and they need to tick the boxes of engaging, interesting, relevant and informative.
Don’t regurgitate your notes and make a syllabus-based mess all over the $300 sneakers (how are they so expensive!?) of the teenager in the front row. Rise above your higher-education peers, gain the respect of those kids and soar into the notable alumni with your kickass-amazing lectures.
1) MAKE YOUR LECTURES FUN
Everyone loves fun!!!!!!! The Washington Post’s Sean Slade dove deep into that big ol’ dome of ours and suggests, “Fun is not just beneficial to learning but, by many reports, required for authentic learning and long-term memory”.
Throw that 60-minute speech out the window and change the mood with a conversation. Introduce the topic to generate discussion, break the audience into accessible sizes and allocate specific tasks for each group. Not only will this prompt conversation, ideally, it will spark debate.
The University of Pittsburgh likens good discussion to art: “It may be hard to define it, but you know it when you see it”.
2) MAKE YOUR LECTURES RELEVANT
Without pandering, you need to seem approachable by using context and examples that those young whipper snappers understand. It can be as simple as examining the cultural relevance of the latest Kanye track in reference to socio-political discourse.
Alternatively, use the subject in its real world context. Students will froth over a demonstration on how 19th Century Literature’s Impact On Stalin’s Russia will play into their everyday lives (and who wouldn’t). Cast your rod into the pool of popular TV references and you’ll snag a crowd of attentive students.
3) VARY YOUR TEACHING STRATEGIES
Much like the blossoming butterflies they are, students are unique, and learn in their own ways. If you want to pump up that attendance rate, you have to cater to everyone.
Yes, of course you know the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles, but sometimes we forget about them. The Department of Education & Training Victoria put together a handy cheat sheet that you can keep in your back pocket in case of an emergency.
4) MAKE YOUR LECTURES ENGAGING
Like those clickbait articles you see on Facebook (you won’t BELIEVE #4!), you need to grab the attention of your students from the get-go.
Crank some tunes while your eager-to-learn class walks in, or pop a question up on the screen so it forces the thinking cap onto their heads. Olgar Kozar for Macquarie University discusses ‘warming up’ your audience – by starting your lecture with something interesting or controversial, your crowd should be hooked from the get-go.
5) USE EXCITING TOOLS WHILE TEACHING
There might not be much room for improvisation within the podium and projector set up, but there’s plenty of space to have fun with the gadgets you bring.
Moving away from physical handouts will not only give you brownie points with Mother Nature, but digitising everything gives your students the ability to instantly refer to the beautiful graph you spent 98% of your Sunday arvo on.
Additionally, a wireless presenter like the Spotlight is a surefire way to draw and hold attention. As the global presentation partner of TEDx, it’s everything you expect from a presentation remote.
Need to highlight and spotlight (nice) that hilarious joke you whipped up about statistical data analysis? Spotlight can do that. Want to play that fresh academic meme that everyone will bust a gut laughing at? It can do that too. Want it to auto-generate and present the rest of your lecture so you can go home and continue binging Netflix? Unfortunately it can’t do that… yet. Read more about it HERE.
6) USE INTERACTIVE QUIZZES FOR MAXIMUM ENGAGEMENT
Everyone has a smart-phone. Politely ask your audience to step off Instagram and head on over to the engaging quiz that you brilliantly set up. Quizzes are great ways to grab attention. It’s also a superb way to fire up the competitiveness of your students, lighting a spark in their learning.
A study undertaken by the Autonomous University of Madrid concluded that competition within an educational environment is beneficial for students. Their conclusions found:
- 70% of the students found it useful, as it prompted study prior to the quiz.
- 47% claimed their extra effort was in the pursuit of coming first.
- 29% of students stated their motivation as the study of the subject.
Not too shabby, right?
7) FINISH THE LECTURE EFFECTIVELY
You’ve done all the heavy lifting with that brilliant, 55-minute lecture on cognitive processes, but it’s missing a gripping conclusion. Instead of being interrupted by the stampede of undergraduates diving towards the exit, time your lecture to perfection, including a quick recap of its content.
This recap will not only cover every major talking point of the lecture, but it will also provide a introduction for the next. The Royal Society of Chemistry details that having the previous week’s summary displayed on arrival will not only reinforce learning from the previous lecture, but it will give you time to tie your shoelaces, flatten that pesky cow-lick and pump yourself up for the best lecture of your life.
Lectures can should be fun. Take note of these handy tips and you’ll be well on your way to academic mastery. For those who desperately skimmed through this article and only read the subheadings two minutes before a lecture of your own, check out the Spotlight HERE. It’s the ultimate presentation partner that will put a spotlight (sorry, couldn’t help ourselves) on your educational talents.