No matter how much we pivot towards simulation-based education or asynchronous learning, the traditional large group lectures still make up a core of any fellowship training program. Therefore, it is imperative for educators to acquire, maintain and develop the skills to be engaging lecturers. The following outline should work whether you’re giving a large group lecture in-person or via a virtual or online platform as essentially these tips and tricks are applicable in both settings. These tips are also universal no matter the level of learners (medical students, residents or fellows).


Step 1: Preparing for your lecture

1.  Remember that your medium (of PowerPoint) is designed to enhance your presentation and not BE the presentation so only YOU can prevent “death by PowerPoint”.
2.  Follow the 5/5/5 rule: No more than five words per line of text, no more than five lines of text per slide, no more than five text-heavy slides in a row.
3.  Choose readable background colors and fonts ie, don’t use dark-on-dark or light-on-light(Fig 1).

Fig 1: Good, Bad and Awful Examples of Background Colors and Font

4.  Don’t type out your entire presentation; there should be no more than one slide/minute of your talk (so cap at 45-50 slides for an hour-long lecture).
5.  It’s great to be funny but be careful with humor so as not to offend varied sensibilities.
6.  It is better to display your information with a graph rather than a table (which is also better than just plain text).
7.  Slide format: Use “assertion plus evidence format” where you put a clear and summative message on top of the slide as a title and display the data to support the statement graphically in the body of the slide, with the citation below it(1)(Fig 2).

Fig 2: Assertion Plus Evidence Format(1) courtesy Dr. Peter Lenz

8.  Questions to ask before planning your lecture: how does your lecture fit into the entire course or curriculum; what is your student’s knowledge of your subject, how will your lecture be assessed and what teaching methods are your students accustomed to(2)?
9.  Lecture plan: Two distinct models to consider while preparing your lecture plan(2): Classic Structure (Fig 3) and Problem Oriented structure (Fig 4).

Fig 3: Lecture Plan with a Classic Structure(2) courtesy Dr. Peter Cantillon

Fig 4: Lecture Plan with a Problem Oriented Structure(2) courtesy Dr. Peter Cantillon

10. Build-in student interaction: you can use either of these interactivity models while preparing and choose your own frequency of student interactive activity(1)(Fig 5).

Fig 5: Student interactivity(1) courtesy Dr. Peter Lenz


Step 2: Establishing a Learning Environment

1.  Clearly state goals and objectives of the talk: During the introduction, communicate the purpose of your talk, provide an overview of content, present expected learning outcomes such as “at the end of this session you will be able to…” and pose rhetorical/challenging questions to be answered.
2.  Communicate the importance of the lecture’s topic: Clearly explain the topic and subtopics’ relevance by explaining the context, applicability, and significance of the material. You could present compelling information using a case, or data that can serve as a “hook” and link your talk to any prior or subsequent topics/talks in the learners’ course.
3.  Present material in a clear organized fashion: Use an explicit, organized framework with a logical presentation flow. Articulate a structure and sequence to the talk in which you frame the subtopics and link concepts.


Step 3: Delivering the Material

1.  Show enthusiasm for the topic: through your voice, eye contact, energy, movement and body language. Vary your pitch, inflection, tempo and volume. Gesture to emphasize importance.
2.  Demonstrate command of the subject matter: Cite literature, refer to overarching subject area, draw upon personal experiences, speak to advances or current controversies in the field and provide informative answers to questions. Acknowledge when you don’t know and offer follow-up.
3.  Explain and summarize key concepts: Define new terms/principles as you introduce them, identify, or highlight important points, use examples, analogies and metaphors. Break and pause to solicit questions.


Step 4: Managing the Session

1.  Encourage appropriate audience interaction: Stimulate active participation by soliciting comments and questions. Poll the audience and pose open-ended questions. Invite your learners to interact with each other and then manage the flow of discussion(Fig 6).

Fig 6: Examples of Audience Response System(1) courtesy Dr. Peter Lenz

2.  Monitor the audience’s understanding of the material and respond: At appropriate intervals assess their comprehension and respond accordingly. Poll the audience and ask if the material is clear. Tailor your response by rephrasing or providing alternative examples. Adjust the pace of lecture to accommodate slower learners.
3.  Use audio-visual aids to reinforce content effectively: Appropriately choose and design instructional material to reinforce key points and demonstrate relevance of material and stimulate thought.
4.  Mechanics of communication: Check if audience can hear/see the material. Use a clear voice and talk to the audience not to your laptop, or screen! Make sure the text is legible and the graphics are clear. Have a screen-timer to end on time!


Step 5: Concluding the session

1.  Provide a conclusion to the talk: Summarize main points. Remind of (fulfilled) objectives from the beginning. Invite/respond to questions. Be open to hearing learners’ perspectives/ opinions.
2.  Give electronic handouts: These can encourage better learning if they allow students more tie to listen and think. They should provide a scaffold on which the students can build their understanding of a topic. These should provide a summary of the major themes (not an exhaustive explanation) and should be used to direct further learning that includes suggested reading lists.




1.  Ann Am Thorac Soc Vol 12, No 4, pp 561–566, Apr 2015 Copyright © 2015 by the American Thoracic Society DOI: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201501-024AR).
2.  BMJ Clinical Research · March 2003 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.326.7386.437 · Source: PubMed


Sakshi Dua, MBBS is Professor of Medicine and Professor of Medicine Education at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. She received her medical degree in India, followed by residency in internal medicine at Good Samaritan Hospital of Johns Hopkins University, where she also served as Chief Resident. She completed her fellowship training in pulmonary diseases and critical care medicine (PCCM) at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, followed by a lung transplant fellowship.

She is the Fellowship Director for the pulmonary and critical medicine training program, Medical Director for the fellows ambulatory clinic, and Faculty Development Facilitator of the Institute of Medical Education for the Mount Sinai Health System. She also serves as the Director of GME Wellness Champion Program for the Mount Sinai Health System. Her clinical areas of interest include interstitial lung diseases.

Dr. Dua’s medical education interests include trainee wellness, small group teaching, delivering effective feedback, and teaching in resource poor settings. She serves on several education and training committees of various national professional societies. In her role as a medical educator, she travels yearly to Africa for medical education missions.