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Trainees' update: How to give a good teaching session

As part of our academic career we will all be asked to teach, give oral presentations, and deliver lectures. As we become more experienced in this, the quality of our presentations will automatically improve. Here are a few tips when preparing a good teaching session.

Target your audience

As you begin to prepare your teaching session think of your target audience and at what level to pitch session. Think back to all the teaching sessions that you have had given to you in the past and bring back those memories of what was done well and how that can be integrated in your session, and what went badly so you can avoid falling into the same trap. Then, make a list of the key learning objectives and the key factual sections to the session.

Style of teaching

The effectiveness of learning will be dependent on the style of teaching you use. Edgar Dale’s cone of education demonstrates the least effective learning is by passive learning; including reading, listening, seeing and hearing, with between 10-50% of information retained after two weeks. Active learning; including group discussions, the use of multi-media programs, live simulations can increase information retention to up to 90% after two weeks.

Interactive sessions

A challenge for some subjects that may appear to be very factual/scientific is to make the teaching session as interesting and varied as possible. Telling an anecdotal story to start with, showing a picture, or relating the topic to something in the news can help. Interactive sessions can break up the session and wake up the audience, as can a pattern interrupt such as a short video clip. On a practical note always arrive early to iron out any potential technical problems and be sure to back up your slides! To kill any nerves, be well rehearsed, be enthusiastic, and smile!


And now for the difficult questions at the end (in the days of students with google on their iPads in front of you.

ACE the answer by;

  • Acknowledging that it’s a great question
  • Clarify the question with them – often they will answer their own question or you may re-phrase the question in a better way
  • Execute by either throwing it back to the audience to answer or saying you will need to research the answer and get back to them.

Good luck!