Giving Effective Lectures

Effective Lecturing (Didactics)

Lectures in the hospital setting should be designed to accomplish several goals: 

  1. clarify what learners need to know about the cases they see (and those they don’t),
  2. add to the depth and breadth of knowledge acquired on the wards,
  3. generate a personal and collegial connection between the instructor and learners (see tips from J. Wiese, MD),
  4. strengthen the learners’ sense that the instructor is there to facilitate their development as future physicians,
  5. model appropriate professional teaching and communication skills,
  6. provide opportunity for discussion and questioning that will promote understanding, and will guide any needed adjustment to goals and to the performance of tasks and procedures.

Lectures can be conducted formally in a conference room or hall, or informally on the wards.  In both cases, the instructor will want to find ways to help learners stay actively engaged and minimize any sense of stratification that could diminish their openness to the needed learning.  Your goal is to generate and reinforce a setting in which the students are so focused on what you have to share with them, that they see you as a partner or guide rather than as an authoritarian figure.  Help them to think, to discover, to imagine or visualize what they need to know and do—and why; and they will reward your efforts by becoming (and remaining) engaged, active, motivated and effective learners and novice practitioners.


  • Litin SC, Ende J. The lecture: tips to make your next presentation go better than your last. In, J Ende, ed. Methods for Teaching Medicine. Philadelphia: ACP Pr; 2010.

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