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What makes a good lecturer?

Effective lecturing is more a matter of skill than charisma and some techniques can help to make your lectures more enjoyable for the audience. Of course some people are more outgoing and comfortable presenting to large groups than others, but the desired outcome of a lecture is that people learn, not that they are entertained. If you are presenting at a conference or symposium, you might give more of a performance so as to engage the audience and make the talk memorable, but in everyday teaching, there are some techniques which can be learned.

  • include material not readily accessible in textbooks or take a different slant on the topic
  • present material in a clear and logical sequence
  • pace the lecture appropriately and break talks up with activities that meaningfully engage the audience
  • make the material accessible, intelligible and meaningful
  • cover the subject matter adequately, whilst staying concise
  • demonstrate an expert (and authoritative) knowledge in the subject
  • give time for questions and remain constructive and helpful when responding to the audience
  • illustrate the practical applications of any theories presented
  • show enthusiasm for the subject
  • use a ‘hook’ to generate curiosity about the topic early in the lecture.


In order to appeal to all learners (but especially highly motivated learners) an effective lecture should present information and stimulate discussion that the audience could not learn from simply reading up on the subject of the lecture. Similarly, presentations at conferences or workshops should also stimulate the audience to find out more or to introduce some new research or perspective.


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