Long live the lecture ...



... so long as the lecture is not too long.

You don't have to look far to find people pontificating on the evils of the lecture.  And as someone whose workshops tend to be interactive and experiential whenever possible, you might think I'd be among their ranks.  But you would be wrong.

Just as PowerPoint is not inherently evil, neither is the lecture.  Nor are interactive formats pure nirvana for every learner all of the time.  And what some of the lecture's critics don't often acknowledge is that many individuals enjoy sitting and listening to a knowledgeable individual speak intelligently on a subject they care about.

So let's quit attacking the lecture as evil incarnate and instead acknowledge that if lecture is going to be a part of the learning experience:
  • The content needs to be compelling
  • The speaker needs to be interesting
  • The stories need to be inviting
  • The visuals need to be vivid
  • The examples need to be relevant and specific
  • The tone is more talking with than talking at
And perhaps most importantly of all, the length probably needs to be lessened.

Remember the adage all things in moderation? That should be the mantra of any presenter or facilitator.  Any learning format overused has the potential to be problematic.  So instead of thinking about giving a lecture, think about short segments of lecture interspersed with discussion, case studies, role plays, and other experiential forms of learning.  What content segments are best delivered via short lecture and what content segments can be brought to life in other ways?

A little lecture can help launch a lot of learning if crafted carefully and used judiciously.
To suggest otherwise is just ridiculous.