Lecturing Skills


Key Points:

  • Your audience will choose whether or not to attend your lecture based on whether that time could be more effectively spent elsewhere to learn the content (unless attendance is mandatory)
  • Retention rates from a lecture are typically 5-15%, which is better than just reading but far worse than demonstration, discussion groups, hands-on practice and teaching others.
  • Attention during a lecture wanes at 10-15 minutes
  • Enthusiasm goes a long way to inspire and challenge your learners
  • Speaking tips: be loud enough, vary pitch, vary speed, insert pauses, don't read slides
  • Powerpoint slide tips: readable size font, limit amount of text, readable color combinations, relevant sounds/animation
  • Content tips: explain why content is important and relevant to your audience, simple is better than complex
  • Interactivity tips: ask questions of your audience, wait for answers, ask others what they think of the answer or ask for elaboration, ask for volunteers, work with responders and volunteers until they say something that is correct, break up stretches of lecturing with active demonstrations or small group discussions 



  • Make your lectures the most efficient and clear way for students to understand a topic
  • Have a meaningful answer to: "What is the value added for learners to attend my lecture?"
  • Utilize lecturing skilll tips to improve audience engagement
  • Integrate interactive elements into your lectures


Recommended Resources: 

Brief Review


The First Lecture. The University of Sydney. 4 minutes.

Engaging students in large lectures through small group discussions and voting. University of Adelaide. 9 minutes.

Tips for Delivering a Lecture. Case Med. 7 minutes.


Miller CJ, McNear J, Metz MJ. A comparison of traditional and engaging lecture methods in a large, professional-level course. Adv Physiol Educ. 2013 Dec;37(4):347-55. doi: 10.1152/advan.00050.2013. PubMed PMID: 24292912

Malik AS, Malik RH. Twelve tips for effective lecturing in a PBL curriculum. Med Teach. 2012;34(3):198-204. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2011.588741. PubMed PMID: 22364451

Lochner L, Gijselaers WH. Improving lecture skills: a time-efficient 10-step pedagogical consultation method for medical teachers in healthcare professions. Med Teach. 2011;33(2):131-6. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2010.498490. Epub 2010 Nov 11. PubMed PMID: 21070117

White G. Interactive lecturing. Clin Teach. 2011 Dec;8(4):230-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-498X.2011.00457.x. PubMed PMID: 22084997

Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning

Active Learning Strategies for Large Classes. University of Saskatechewan College of Medicine.


Principles of Medical Education: Maximizing Your Teaching Skills; Harvard Medical School. CME course given twice per year. $Fee

Blanco M, Capello C, Gusic M, McCormack W, Hafler J. Peer Feedback Tool for Lectures & Small Group Teaching. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2011. This teaching assessment tool is designed to provide faculty members with information about the quality of their teaching based on peer observation. The feedback form can help the observer to provide feedback to the instructor about five specific domains of teaching: Establishing a Learning Environment; Managing the Session; Presenting the Material; Conveying Content; and Implementing Strategies to Promote Learning.

Jahangiri L, Mucciolo T. Presentation Skills Assessment Tools. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2010. These interactive assessment tools take less than five minutes to complete and are designed to measure presentation effectiveness by self evaluation or by peer evaluation.

Daniel M, Rougas S, Warrier S, Kwan B, Anselin E, Walker A, Taylor J. Teaching Oral Presentation Skills to Second-Year Medical Students. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2015. This curriculum is designed to ensure that preclinical students have the foundational oral presentation skills needed to further refine during their clerkships, such that they may successfully achieve core entrustable professional activity (EPA) #6 as outlined by the AAMC for OPs upon entering residency.

Improve your Lecturing. National Health Service. This module introduces the topic of teaching large groups through lecturing, and links closely with the modules Facilitating learning in the workplace and Small group teaching. It considers how lecturing can be conceptualised, planned and structured, and looks at some of the techniques teachers can use in their lecturing to maximise individual and collective learning. It also includes some strategies for identifying and avoiding some common pitfalls.


In-Depth Review


Presentation tips for teachers (Never give a boring lecture again!). TEDx Osaka. 18 minutes.

How to Give a Lecture. Stanford. 45 minutes.


How to Deliver a TED Talk: Secrets of the World's Most Inspiring Presentations by Jeremey Donovan. 2013. $14.20

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo. 2009. $16.21


Premkumar K, D'Eon M, Bonnycastle D. Medical Teaching Resources for Faculty Developers. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2013. 40 video vignettes depicting effective and not so effective teaching methods including Presentation Skills, Active Learning Strategies, Small Group Teaching, and Clinical Teaching.

Newman L, Brodsky D, Roberts D, Atkins K, Schwartzstein R. Peer Assessment of Medical Lecturing: A Faculty Development Instrument. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2013. The materials include a Rater Training Facilitator's Guide to accompany the Peer Assessment of Medical Lecturing Instrument. Together, the guide and instrument may be used for peer rater training as it provides faculty with detailed behavioral descriptors and guidance on conducting peer assessment of medical lecturing or large group discussions.

Introduction to Public Speaking. Coursera, University of Washington.