The setup for a face-to-face class is completely different from that of a talk or lecture.
The audience is smaller (between five and 40 people), and the difference between the speaker and the audience is less physically noticeable: the speaker is closer; the room is smaller. It’s more intimate and favorable to interactions: you can discuss things with the learners, interact with them and answer their questions.
Presenting a lesson is more natural than doing a talk and it’s less stressful. That said, it can be more tiring because:
It generally lasts longer: with regard to time (number of consecutive hours), as well as frequency (e.g. series of sessions in the course).
You need to say and repeat the same thing a number of times (that’s the case when you give the same course to different classes).
👩🏻 (Laurène): I’ve experienced having to give a one-and-a-half-hour course three times in succession (to three different classes) in the same afternoon. At the end, I was exhausted and my back hurt.
You need to be able to keep a sufficiently high energy level to carry your learners with you.
Prepare the classroom
As usual, you need to prepare your presentation in order to keep a sufficiently high energy level and to avoid unexpected incidents.
Organize the space
You can arrange the tables in a horseshoe, rather than in rows, if possible, or create islands of tables (like in primary school). This will encourage mutual help, collective intelligence, empathy, sharing and active listening which are fundamental components of effective learning.
If it’s a lecture hall, and/or the chairs and desks are fixed to the floor, that’s unfortunate. Try to find solutions:
Ask the learners to sit towards the front of the room.
You can go further, if you want, in overturning classroom rules and barriers:
Sit among them – they’ll turn towards you;
Ask them to sit on the desks; why not?
Give the lesson outside, possibly sitting on the grass.
Check the equipment in the room
If you are projecting something (a slideshow, a film etc.) or planning to use the Internet during the lesson, you absolutely must test the equipment in the room.
It will avoid interrupting the lesson and losing time due to technical problems.
Make your lesson memorable
Interact with the learners
Take advantage of the physical closeness with your learners to engage them as much as possible.
Bounce off your pupils’ reactions: a smile, a frown, chatter? Build and integrate them into your flow of words.
Allow yourself to digress (not too far), to explain an anecdote or an experience (audiences love moments like this, you’ll have their attention, whatever their ages).
Ask questions, encourage them to participate.
Smile, congratulate and thank them regularly; be benevolent.
If you make yourself human, approachable and friendly, the learners will pick up your material and retain the greater part of what you teach them.
Don’t stay seated and hidden behind your desk. Go closer, lean your back against the desk, or even remain standing and move between the tables.
Put yourself level with, among them and close to them. It will encourage them to participate, which will have the advantage of reducing:
Some pupils’ stress (even your own)
👨🏻 (Stéphane): And, as you do for a talk, emphasize words and use suitable gestures – that facilitates understanding of what you say.
Teaching is also telling a story. So, use storytelling methods when you can.
Deal with the contingencies of the presentation
Try not to take things personally and react calmly, keeping the discussion going.
Computers are used more and more in lessons, especially in higher education and adult training. Teachers who face a wall of computers may have trouble connecting or interacting with students. There's nothing wrong with them if they are being used for note taking as they are quicker than handwriting. That said, if you notice that they are being used for something else, you have two solutions:
Ask them to switch off their computer. However, this isn’t the best solution, because it’s a bit rigid and can be taken badly, without resolving the problem of boredom or inattention;
Change your posture, your tone (tell an anecdote), increase your energy level: that will surprise them, capture their attention and make them raise their eyes from the screen.
If your pupils are doing something other than listening to you, it’s because they’re finding it useful. Don’t take it personally. It’s normal not to stay actively attentive for a prolonged period.
Take this factor into account and, from time to time, fan the flame by drawing on the resources of storytelling. You will see that you manage far better to capture your audience’s attention.
It’s a bit incidental to public speaking, and it’s more about group management – but, if you have to manage a distracted or disruptive element, don’t get upset, stay calm, poised and engage the conversation. Don’t shame them, don’t lose your cool.
Prepare your speech in class in order to maintain a high energy level and avoid surprises:
Lay out the room to break down the codes that typically govern the classroom.
Test the equipment in the room.
Adopt the right automatic reflexes on the day:
Arouse student motivation by encouraging interaction.
Be human, approachable, and energetic.
It is hard to concentrate for more than 15 minutes at a time. To capture your audience's attention, look for "storytelling" resources and vary your stance or tone of voice.
In the next chapter, you will learn to deliver content to the camera.