Lecture preparation

Key words: lecture, podcast, notetaking, transition signals

To get the most out of lectures, tutorials and podcasts, you need to prepare for them, take notes, ask questions and review your notes afterwards.

Before the presentation

What preparation do you do before listening to a presentation?

Exercise 1: Before a presentation

Click the box next to those statements that describe you and your habits.

I don't do anything. I just turn up.
I look up what the topic will be.
I find out how the presentation fits into the overall structure of the topic.
I familiarise myself with the work I have done on the topic so far.
Just before the presentation, I prime myself for it.

During the presentation

There are many techniques that can help you get the most out of presentations. Complete the following activity to find out what you generally do during a presentation – and what more you could do.

Exercise 2: During a presentation – a checklist

Click the box beside those habits below that you generally follow. When you have finished, look at the habits you have NOT ticked and see if you can adopt some of them to enhance your learning.

During the presentation:

I listen for a review of the previous lecture.
I listen for an overview of the lecture.
I use overview points as headings for my notes.
I listen for cues of the lecture structure (Firstly …; In conclusion …).
I note essential facts and ideas.
I note definitions.
I note references, authors and articles the lecturer discusses.
I highlight the above for follow up reading.
I write notes in my own words – so I’m thinking – not just writing.
I ask myself questions (Is this always the case? Why? Do I agree?).
I leave white space around my notes for when I review them.
I employ effective notetaking techniques: I have a good system for taking notes and use notetaking strategies that suit my learning style.

After the presentation

What you do after the presentation will affect your understanding and memorisation of what took place.

Click on the following links for more information.

After the presentation:

check your understanding of the presentation
  • Check your notes with one of your classmates.
  • Talk about the presentation with some of your classmates.
follow up on anything you're not clear about
  • Make a note to look it up as soon as possible.
  • Ask your lecturer.
  • Check with one of your classmates.
label and file your lecture notes and any handouts
  • Assemble your notes in a loose-leaf folder (ring-binder).
  • Use separators for each unit; or use a separate folder for each unit.
  • Using ring-binder folders allows easy insertion and removal of notes and supporting materials. For example, handouts or phototcopies associated with the presentation can be inserted with your notes for that presentation.
think about the presentation

Ask yourself questions about the presentation:

  • What were the main points?
  • How do they relate to each other?
  • How was the argument or material developed?
  • What questions were raised by the presenter?
review your notes
  • Fill in any gaps.
  • Expand on ideas.
  • Highlight areas of importance.
  • What questions were raised by the presenter?
  • Ask yourself questions about your notes to check your understanding.
check the spelling and meaning of any new words

When you are studying a new topic, you will encounter new words/terms/phrases. You may like to write these in the form of a vocabulary list, noting:

  • a definition
  • an explanation in your own words
  • an example of its usage.
prepare questions for the next tutorial for that unit.

Tutorials are generally an opportunity to follow up with your lecturer, any matters relating to your unit of study. Make use of this opportunity.


A few days after the presentation:

spend 10-20 minutes reviewing your notes again
  • Test yourself on some of the key points.
  • Look for parts that may relate to exams or assignments.
  • Link your notes to the new topic coming up.
begin preparing for your next lecture.
  • Check the topic
  • See how the new topic links with previous topics and your previous learning.
  • Do some background reading.
  • Make a list of new words and their meanings.


Within one month after the presentation:

to aid memory retention, spend 10-20 minutes reviewing your notes again.
  • Reviewing your notes at regular intervals will help you to retain the information. With no reviews, you will have forgotten the information within a month!
  • Use key words and questions to guide your revision.