5 key steps to structuring an effective lecture

You know that strange mix of apprehension and anxiety you get after preparing a lecture?

You’re not sure if you structured it properly, hit all the key talking points, or whether you can make it engaging enough to capture and maintain the attention of your students.

You’re not alone.

Even the most skilled lecturers sometimes struggle to make an impact on their students. But the way they work around it and keep their presentation seamless–so that nobody’s the wiser–is with proper preparation and structure.

If you want to know what the key stages of structuring a good presentation are so that you’re able to deliver an enthralling lecture, then read on.


1. Know your end game

If someone asked you what the goal of your lecture was, could you answer them immediately? It seems simple, but a lot of people don’t consider that they could be making things unnecessarily difficult when trying to teach your students the valuable skills and concepts they’ll need in the future.

The solution here is simple: know your end goal. You should be able to sum up the key lesson of your lecture in one sentence; any more than that, and you’re most likely losing focus.

An effective lecture structure sets a topic, theme or question right from the start so your audience gets just one takeaway from your presentation. This idea is continually reinforced in order to take the audience on a journey―from first understanding the problem, to ultimately identifying the solution.


2. Speak to the audience

Knowing how to deliver a good lecture will depend on your audience and the actions you’re asking them to take.

For instance, when presenting information to an audience of college students, it’s often appropriate to speak in a more relatable manner (after all, it would sound a little weird if you stood up and began with “Good afternoon, Sirs and Madams…” at your 9 am lecture).

Whoever your audience is, you’ll find it much easier to engage them if you’re reflecting their own language, mannerisms or preferences in an authentic manner.


3. Tell a story

Does your presentation structure have a clear beginning, middle and end? Think of your lecture as though it were a story helps you structure it in a clear and engaging manner—keeping your audience on the edge of their seats.

To get your narrative right, start with a solid introduction that sets the theme to your presentation. Don’t waffle; use it as an outline of what’s to come. Cover the Who, What, Why and How of your topic (or in other words, ‘tell them what you’re going to tell them’).

Next, move on to the content or ‘body’ of your presentation, where each point of the theme can be explored in detail, while slowly building up a case that supports the key lesson of your lecture.

To finish, summarise the points you’ve covered and wrap them into a finishing thought; the overall message you’d like participants to walk away with.

Studies show that storytelling is one of the best ways to help capture the attention of an audience. It works by developing an emotional connection with your listeners, rather than simply barking out facts.

Nothing motivates a student better than feeling as though they’re personally experiencing the situation you’re describing. By helping your class visualise the situation or topics you’re covering at a personal level, you’ll find them subconsciously wanting to take the narrative journey with you all the way from the start of your presentation to the finish. After all, nobody likes to be left with a cliffhanger.


Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy


4. Make it interactive

Even the most well thought-out lectures can hit a roadblock the moment someone’s phone rings. Technology can be a major distraction to the flow of a presentation, but there are ways to leverage students’ smartphone addictions and turn them into an advantage.

Using interactive presentation software, you can now get everyone on the same page by letting them contribute to the flow of your presentation straight from their smartphone―using real-time feedback from live polls, live comments, or by simply inviting questions from the floor.


5. Get people involved by asking questions

It’s easy to get distracted by questions that are a little off topic. But with the emergence of cloud-based, interactive presentation software, lecturers can control their Q&A sessions without the risk of being thrown off by a question or comment from left field.

You can empower your class by letting your students vote on which questions get answered next, or choose to keep them private so that you can field them throughout the course of your presentation; moderating over what gets said and when to keep your lecture on course.


One of the hardest feats to accomplish when delivering an effective lecture is keeping your students interested until the last word. If you’d like to keep your listeners engaged, check out how a free Zeetings membership can help you by clicking here.



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