Want To Be A Better Speaker? Use These 10 Alternatives to Lecturing

If you want to be better speaker – one that everyone loves, one that people quote, and one that produces life-changing results, then stop lecturing.

Here’s why: What you say doesn’t stick. What people discover, say, or experience themselves sticks.

You already know this, don’t you? But we still lecture! I’ll show you 10 easy ways to engage your audience, that won’t take any more preparation time.

Develop Your Learning Points

Start with listing all learning and application points you want people to have as a result of your presentation. Keep the list to 4-6 points per hour of presentation time.

Write out these points with a verb at the beginning of the statement. If I were speaking on asking powerful questions, here are some example learning points:

  • Define and identify a powerful question.
  • Recognize the leadership impact of asking questions.
  • Demonstrate asking questions in place of making statements.
  • Use powerful questions effectively with subordinates to develop their leadership abilities.

Next, Create a learning exercises that will draw out each of the points. Form questions, activities, and an environment that will result in the participants the discovering and experiencing these learning points. It’s not as hard as you might imagine.

10 Alternative to Lecturing

Here are 10 alternatives to lecturing that will engage your audience in ways that will stimulate their creativity, build on their existing knowledge and raise their commitment to act on what they learn.

  1. Build. Ask participants to create their own information around a topic. Create lists on posters to move people around.
  2. Demonstrate. Show participants the topic in action. Then debrief what they saw and heard. Add any missing teaching points after the group debrief.
  3. Use Video. Show the topic in action, interview an expert or a consumer, show a movie clip that illustrates, etc.
  4. Examples. Ask participants for examples that illustrate learning points, rather than only sharing your own.
  5. Study Group. Ask participants to review information you put together in a hand-out that you give them.
  6. Case Study. Create a case study for participants to discuss and find learning points.
  7. Socratic Method. Ask participants a series of engaging questions that tap their knowledge. Record their points.
  8. Learners Present. Divide up the topic information and assign to small groups. Ask each small group to present back to the whole group.
  9. Games. Give topic information to teams to study for a few minutes then quiz them, having teams compete for a prize.
  10. Practice. Get participants to actually do the topic. Stop midway and ask for learning points. Add your own. Continue with the practice. Debrief again at the end.

Some of these activities can be combined, producing many different variations.

Debriefing Is Essential

Many times people aren’t aware of what they just learned. It is essential that you debrief the participant’s discussion, experience, and practice to find the learning. It’s during the debrief that participants often make connections to your learning points.

Highlight their learning by asking them what they learned. Like this,

  • What did you learn about asking powerful questions from this exercise?
  • What did you observe about yourself as you practiced this?
  • What was meaningful for you from this discussion?
  • How might you use this learning in your work?

Keep track as participants mention learning points. When they say them, point them out, but don’t start lecturing about them. If some learning points have not been mentioned, briefly add them after participants have shared theirs.

Try it. Think about your next presentation. Start by defining the learning points. Then pick some activities from the list above. Write out the questions or directions so you’ll be clear. Prepare two questions to use in the debrief at the end. And, let me know how it turns out!

Question: What are your favorite alternatives to lecturing? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. You own your comments but give me permission to use them. See My Comments Policy.

    Read my Permissions Policy to know how you can use my posts.