21 October 2004


Dr.A.Sreekumar Menon
Psychologist & H.R.D Consultant

Successful delivery of classroom lectures apart from knowledge of the subject depends upon:

a) Communication skills of the lectures and
b) Listening and comprehension skills of the students who attend the lectures.

Though the latter is not completely under the control of the speaker, he can do much to compensate for the weakness in the former. Communication is complete only when the receiver receives the entire message sent by the person who sends the message. In the context of class room lecture, a lecturer is successful in his oral delivery only when he is able to hold the attention of his students and only when the students understand the contents of his lecture. Understanding the subject is necessary for learning. Effective delivery of class-room lectures should follow a number of principles and guidelines of communication.

Some of those are:

1. Deciding information load : Deciding how much information the lectures should be packed with. If to much information is given in one lecture, the student may find it difficult to follow the lecture. In such case even the bright students may get frustrated. On the contrary the student get board if the information is too scanty. The quantum of information given should match the student ability to grasp or should match the speed of comprehension.

2. Explanation and repetition: Many basic points would need explanation to make them clear to the students. Similarly certain facts have to be repeated to give the required emphases to enable the students to make note of those points. Both explanations or elaboration and repetition must meet just the requirement.

3. Giving and outline of the topic covered in the lecture and his logical development: At the commencement of the lecture an outline of the topic should be given, preferably to be written on the black board or on the flip chart or on the projection on the screen it should contain major headings and minor points or subheadings under major headings following logical order. First the lecture should talk to the students what they would be learning at the end of his lecture. This is giving an overview of the topic. It stimulates the interest of the students. They are motivated when they know what they can look forward to. Then each point is to be taken up, define, explained and elaborated. The Presentation should follow a logical order or sequence and should be coherent and meaningful that is whatever is related should go together. The speaker should no jump forward and backward, as this would affect coherence or smooth flow of ideas. After giving sufficient explanation and elaboration of a point to the extent that the students develop a reasonably good understanding the subject, the lecturer should summarize what has been already said before switching over to another point. This helps students to commit the facts and information dealt with firmly to memory and enable them to learn much faster. It is necessary to preplan time to be allotted to various topics and subtopics presented in the outline. Speaker giving inadequate treatment of certain topics for want of time because of overspending time on our topics should not arise. Initially this time planning should be done deliberately. As time passes, it comes about naturally as personal habit.

4. Relating the topics being presented to their application or giving practical examples: If the speaker can point out the linkages between theoretical principles dealt with in lecture and their practical applications, the students will be motivated better and also will be benefited more from lecture. As for as possible this is to be done.

5. Seeking feedback from the students: Responsibilities of the speaker does not cease when he completes delivery of his lecture. On the other hand he should ensure that the students find his lecture interesting and that they follow it. In other words he should get or receive or seek feed back from the students. Throughout his lecture he should monitor student’s reactions to his lecture. He should use or employ strategies to hold attention an interest with a students in regard to teaching – learning. The following guidelines should be helpful to him in this regard. He should speak to the students and not at them. His attention should be focused on the students. He should not be preoccupied with just the subject he is handling. If he prepares his lecture/subject well he will be able to speak at ease and able to attend to the audience. He should have high contact with the students, though he should not stir at them. His eyes should keep moving from one student to another. When he looks at them, the students also will intern look at him and focus their attention on what is being taught. The eye contact of the speaker with the audience is a powerful tool in holding the attention of the audience. The speaker should feel comfortable or at ease confident, energetic and appearance enthusiastic before the students. In such case he will be able to deliver the lecture effectively, impressively and a sense of personal touch. Otherwise lecture will be mechanical and impersonal and the students get bored or feel monotonous. When the speaker is in touch with the audience his lecture makes much greater impact and its communication potential is very high than when it is delivered in a mechanical or lifeless passion.

6. The lecturer should encourage the student to clarify the doubts: The students of course should not be allowed to disrupt the lecture. In the course of the lecture the students should be asked to note down quickly any doubts that crops up in the course of the lectures without missing any part of the lecture. Some time should be ear mark at the end of the lecture session for clarifying doubts. No student should have the fear that he will cut a poor figure even if clarifications made look silly. No student should be allowed to make critical remarks either against the teachers or against other students. A constructive and truly problem solving approach should be encouraged and even enforced. Students should also be younger aged the think further and if possible to come out with some original ideas and also to do further reading on the subject. They should also be motivated for taking upon themselves the prime responsibility for learning and development or the habit of self-learning should be inculcated in their minds.

7. Using motivation of techniques: The speaker should use motivational techniques in the course of his lecture to attract and sustain the attention of students. Lecturer cannot say ‘I will teach and it is up to the students to learn’. Although learning takes place largely as a result of effort putting by the students, the teacher has a responsibility to facilitate student’s learning. He should involve them while he teaches. He should ask them to add a point or two to what he has said or to summarize in their own words what he said before. This is called ‘participative learning’. In participative learning students take more interest in learning and learn much faster. By asking the students to summarize the points he discussed, the teacher is also able to find out whether the students have followed his lecture. When students participate in lecture session, clarify their doubts, summarize the points and even contribute their ideas, the teacher should appreciate their involvements and contributions.

8. Using a number of channels of communication: Speaking is more effective, if a number of communication channels are used simultaneously for sending the message. For example in a letter there is only one channel – the written words. In speaking, a number of channels can be use, such as body tension, facial expression, hand and body movements and eye contact. These are called non-verbal communication or body language. Whenever these multi-channels are used, the messages sent must be consistent across the channel. Otherwise it will be confusing. Another example of the use of multi-channels is the use of Audio-visual aids like slide projectors, flip charts etc., which are often used in lecture sessions. The presentation of materials through those devises should not interface with those of oral presentation. Too long attention of the audience to the material presented through the projections should not be invited. If it is done they lose track of oral presentation. Projecting slides and explaining what is shown there do not make the lecture interesting and vibrant. In such cases the students may find the presentation rather boring. The reason is that the speaker is not addressing the audience. Hence the speaking has no personal touch. Audio-visual presentation should only supplement the oral presentation.

9. Linguistic ability: The speaker should be able to speak fluently and correctly. He should speak neither slow nor fast. If he speaks too fast, audience will not follow the lecture, if he speaks too slow, the audience will get bore. He should express directly and not in a round about way. He should use simple words in place of high sounding words and shorts sentences in place of long winding sentences. Considerable practice is required for developing fluency and for the right type of language use. While using language, the focus of attention should be on the ideas. Language is primarily as vehicle of thought, especially in scientific and engineering field. The speaker should be able to speak at ease, without giving the impression that his mind is preoccupied with language or that he is struggling for words and sentences. His attention while lecturing should be fully focused on the students and not either on the contents of this lecture or on the language to be used or both. If that does not happen, his lecture will look impersonal, routine and mechanical, which will have least impact on the audience. In summary, this paper discusses some of the major of effective communication, which can be applied to class room lectures. It is hoped that the teaching profession will find the points discussed in this paper very helpful in making their lectures effective and having positive impact on the students. It is also a matter of personal satisfaction and a source of motivation for teachers when they are able to deliver lectures effectively.

The author can be contacted to this address
Residence No: 080 – 25341374
Mobile no: 9845770744
D-1, Malnad Mansion Maruthi NagarPost New ThippasandraBangalore – 560 075

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