Lectures: Structuring the Body

By Peter Connor

Tell your students what you told them you were going to tell them

Ideally, before diving in, you will have introduced your students to the topic of your lecture. In other words, you will have told your students what it is you’re going to tell them.

You’ve already decided on your learning objectives: Structuring the body of your lecture is next. It’s time to tell them what you told them you were going to tell them.

Your delivery is critical. Enabling your students’ ability to comprehend and retain the most valuable information is most important. The Program for Instructional Innovation at the University of Oklahoma advises the following:

Chunk the Information

Chunk the body of your lecture into three or four main ideas or issues. This frames your learning objective in a way that enables your students to more readily absorb what they are hearing. It is much easier to comprehend and retain several key items, rather than a long narrative. Too much information too often turns into a long rambling narrative.

Think of these information chunks as hooks. They provide a place to hang the details. When students reflect on what they heard, they will first remember the central issues and key ideas. Recovering, reviewing, and examining the details will follow naturally.

Summarize and Preview

Between the chunks of information—at the natural breaks in your delivery—
look both backwards and forwards. Summarize what you’ve just gone over and preview what’s coming next. Tying the chunks together provides continuity in the flow of your content and builds redundancy into your delivery, a good strategy for reinforcing the main ideas or issues in your lecture.


Knight, A.B., (n.d.). Lectures: Organizing them and making them interesting. In Ideas on teaching. Retrieved September 2, 2008, from http://www.ou.edu/pii/tips/ideas/lectures.html

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This Teaching Tip was adapted from material developed by the Program for Instructional Innovation at the University of Oklahoma.


Peter Connor - TILT Web Content Writer and Editor