Practical strategies for effective lectures

Peter H. Lenz, Jennifer W. McCallister, Andrew M. Luks, Tao T. Le, Henry E. Fessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Lecturing is an essential teaching skill for scientists and health care professionals in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. However, few medical or scientific educators have received training in contemporary techniques or technology for large audience presentation. Interactive lecturing outperforms traditional, passive-style lecturing in educational outcomes, and is being increasingly incorporated into large group presentations. Evidence-based techniques range from the very simple, such as inserting pauses for audience discussion, to more technologically advanced approaches such as electronic audience response systems. Alternative software platforms such as Prezi can overcome some of the visual limits that the ubiquitous PowerPoint imposes on complex scientific narratives, and newer technology formats can help foster the interactive learning environment. Regardless of the technology, adherence to good principles of instructional design, multimedia learning, visualization of quantitative data, and informational public speaking can improve any lecture. The storyline must be clear, logical, and simplified compared with how itmight be prepared for scienti fic publication. Succinct outline and summary slides can provide a roadmap for the audience. Changes of pace, and summaries or other cognitive breaks inserted every 15-20 minutes can renew attention. Graphics that emphasize clear, digestible data graphs or images over tables, and simple, focused tables over text slides, are more readily absorbed. Text slides should minimize words, using simple fonts in colors that contrast to a plain background. Adherence to these well-established principles and addition of some new approaches and technologies will yield an engaging lecture worth attending.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-566
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Audiovisual aids
  • Educational technology
  • Learning
  • Lectures
  • Teaching/methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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