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Reviving the medical lecture: practical tips for delivering effective lectures
  1. Monica W. Harbell1 and
  2. Patricia S. O’Sullivan2
  1. 1 Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
  2. 2 Departments of Medicine and Surgery, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Monica W. Harbell, Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Harbell.Monica{at}


Large group lectures, which are widely used in continuing medical education, are susceptible to pitfalls that can negatively impact their effectiveness. In this article, we describe evidence-based best practices from the educational literature that can revive the medical lecture as an effective educational tool. We provide practical tips for both developing and delivering lectures, emphasizing the key role that learning objectives can and should have in the development of lectures, the importance of organization, effective use of visuals and application of restraint in slide design. Pause techniques to authentically engage the audience are described. We also provide practical tips for promoting attention in virtual presentations.

  • education
  • outcomes
  • internship and residency

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  • Contributors All authors were involved in study design, data interpretation, drafting and final approval of the work. All authors agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests MH was a faculty development consultant for the American Society of Regional Anesthesia Pain Medicine ending in April 2020.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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