This week our discussion centered on managing teaching materials, with emphasis on adapting presentation skills for effective lectures. Most of us have practiced or been trained for years on delivering successful presentations, but only few of us in the Graduate Teaching Community have experience in teaching a course by giving a series of lectures. We discussed the differences between presentation and lecture in terms of context and structure, so that our lecturing skills can be improved by reasonable and specific adaption of our presentation abilities.
1. The contextual change from presentation to lecture
o Presentations generally stand alone and are unrelated; lectures are generally delivered in a series and related to one another.
o The audience of presentations can be supervisors, colleagues and bosses; while lectures are mainly delivered to students.
o The main focus of presentation is to spread or convey viewpoints or discoveries; lecture centers on helping student learn and understand the material.
o The objective of presentation is for the audience to know the work or products of a person, a team or a company; the objective of lecture is to digest textbook and relate new knowledge to the old.
2. The structural change from presentation to lecture
o In many cases presentations are started by an introduction from the host; we begin the lecture by ourselves to draw the attention (if PowerPoint is used, a switch from a blank slide to the content helps to keep attention).
o The content of presentation can be organized in a more flexible manner; lectures are generally structured in a way that new points or knowledge are based on old ones.
o The explanation of relevance in content is not highlighted in presentation; but this is very useful in lecture in order to motivate students to learn and help them retain information.
o In presentations the main points are not frequently repeated; while lectures use many repetitions to explain and emphasize the main concepts for students to retain.
o Presentation is generally closed by recapping the main points; the closing of lecture provides a preview of the next one, in addition to a review of the day’s information.
Besides the above points, the interaction and delivery of materials can be different when we switch from presentation to lecture. Some of the aspects in these two categories were already covered in our discussion. The other aspects were left for further thinking and reflection after the discussion.
In total, we highlighted that presentation is mainly to make an impression or deliver information. By contrast, lecture is to enliven the knowledge in the textbook and help students to digest the knowledge.