How to Give a Lecture
Lecturing is not simply a matter of standing in front of a class and reciting what you know The classroom lecture is a special form of communication in which voice, gesture, movement, facial expression, and eye contact can either complement or detract from the content. No matter what your topic, your delivery and manner of speaking immeasurably influence your students' attentiveness and learning. Use the following suggestions, based on teaching practices of faculty and on research studies in speech communication, to help you capture and hold students' interest and increase their retention.
Watch yourself on videotape. Often we must actually see our good behaviors in order to exploit them and see our undesirable behaviors in order to correct them. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, viewing a videotape of yourself can be an invaluable way to do so. See "Watching Yourself on Videotape."
Learn how not to read your lectures. At its best, lecturing resembles a natural, spontaneous conversation between instructor and student, with each student feeling as though the instructor is speaking to an audience of one. If you read your lectures, however, there will be no dialogue and the lecture will seem formal, stilted, and distant. Even if you are a dynamic reader, when you stick to a script you forfeit the expressiveness, animation, and give-and-take spontaneity of plain talking. Reading from notes also reduces your opportunities to engage your class in conversation and prevents you from maintaining eye contact. On this point all skilled speakers agree: don't read your presentation. See "Preparing to Teach the Large Lecture Course" for advice on preparing lecture notes.
Prepare yourself emotionally for class. Some faculty play rousing music before lecturing. Others set aside fifteen or thirty minutes of solitude to review their notes. Still others walk through an empty classroom gathering their thoughts. Try to identify for yourself an activity that gives you the energy and focus you need to speak enthusiastically and confidently. (Source: Lowman, 1984)
Opening a Lecture
Avoid a "cold start." Go to class a little early and talk informally with students. Or walk in the door with students and engage them in conversation. Using your voice informally before you begin to lecture helps keep your tone conversational.
Minimize nervousness. A certain amount of nervousness is normal, especially right before you begin to speak. To relax yourself, take deep breaths before you begin or tighten and then release the muscles of your body from your toes to your jaw Once you are under way your nervousness will lessen.
Grab students' attention with your opening. Open with a provocative question, startling statement, unusual analogy, striking example, personal anecdote, dramatic contrast, powerful quote, short questionnaire, demonstration, or mention of a recent news event. Here are...