4MAT Train-the-Trainer: 6 Ideas for Improving Lecture

In our 4MAT Train the Trainer live and web classes, we facilitate an exercise where each of the four learning style groups gives examples of painful learning situations particular to their style. As many of you already know, the 4MAT Type One Learners appreciate relevance and meaning in a learning situation. Type One’s will tell you that it is painful when there is absolutely no dialogue or any sense of personal connection to the content or the group.. Guess what all four styles find painful: boring lecture.

I think we all know this, which explains why two of the most frequent questions we hear regarding lecture are:

-How do you make lecture interesting?

-How long is too long?

On his blog (which we love) Dr.John Medina shared the following:

“Peer-reviewed studies confirm my informal inquiry: Before the first quarter-hour is over in a typical presentation, people usually have checked out. If keeping someone’s interest in a lecture were a business, it would have an 80 percent failure rate. What happens at the 10-minute mark to cause such trouble? Nobody knows. The brain seems to be making choices according to some stubborn timing pattern, undoubtedly influenced by both culture and gene. This fact suggests a teaching and business imperative: Find a way to arouse and then hold somebody’s attention for a specific period of time.”

Personally, I think a 20-25 minute lecture is ideal. If we subscribe to the idea that at each 10 minute marker, we need to shake things up frequently. Here are some “shake and bake” strategies:

Images-Images trump words every time. What image activity might you use to compel, intrigue and provoke the learner? Visual Explorer tools are excellent for this. What about a video clip or metaphor? There are plenty of free video sources out there.

Chunk-“Well-organized” is the key criteria in evaluating lectures. Learners describe painful lectures as “wandering”, “disorganized” and “all over the place”. Chunk the information into the big ideas. Introduce the big ideas and the organization of the lecture at the beginning. If you are using powerpoint, set up the structure for the lecture visually in the first few slides. (More on this in a future post-stay tuned).

Weave –a good lecture weaves together all the topics around a central concept. Make sure everything you deliver is shared in connection with everything else. Think of each piece of information as a thread and the overall lecture as a tapestry.

Stories-We learn in the context of human experience. Stories are containers for information. A well-crafted story packages up the information for the learner to store effectively.

Interactives-Active processing during the lecture can extend the time limit of attention. Think about incorporating “teach-backs” or partner shares throughout the lecture.

Powerpoints-. Powerpoints are not tele-prompters. Minimize the text-one phrase or sentence that captures the essence of the message is enough. Make sure the image aligns and reinforces what you are saying.

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