Institute of Teaching and Learning

Professional Development for Teaching and Learning

Topic 5: Finishing my lecture


Welcome to 'Finishing my lecture'.

The topic is designed in a 'Frequently Asked Questions' (FAQ) style. It is envisaged that any academic staff member at Deakin who is interested in reflecting on his or her lecturing work, may find some useful ideas within the questions and answers included in this topic. Whether it be a lecturer new to lecturing at Deakin or at university, or someone who is just curious, we have included a broad range of issues for consideration within this topic, and the accompanying other five topics in this suite of materials about effective face-to-face lecturing.

Learning objectives

At the end of this topic you should be able to:

  • explain the importance of conducting lectures within the scheduled timeframe
  • reflect on means of concluding your lecture effectively
  • identify points within your lecture when you can cover administrative matters
  • explain the value in remaining after lecture to chat with students.

What is involved with this topic?

Finishing your lecture effectively is as important as beginning it well. Students appreciate structure in lectures, and briefly reviewing what the lecture was about, helps students develop their understanding of your unit.

Finishing your lecture strongly gives a sense of your authority and competence to students, and can assist them to see how the topic of your lecture fits into the overall unit structure. Students who recognise your competence are likely to keep attending your future lectures as they perceive them to be well organised and delivered.

Remaining behind after lecture gives students a great opportunity to chat with you in an informal sense, and for you to demonstrate the interest in them that they appreciate.

The emphasis of this topic is on effectively concluding your lecture so that a sense of closure is created amongst your students.

We hope that the ideas discussed in this topic offer some assistance to you in developing your role as an effective teacher at Deakin. If you wish to investigate other issues relating to your teaching at Deakin, then you can contact academic staff at the Institute of Teaching and Learning.

Q1: How long should a lecture go for?
Q2: Should I ever finish a lecture early?
Q3: What should I do when I'm running out of time in presenting my subject matter?
Q4: How should I bring a lecture to a conclusion?
Q5: What can I do to effectively bring a lecture to a conclusion in regard to the subject matter?
Q6: What administrative matters should I deal with at the end of a lecture?
Q7: Should I spend some time after the lecture is ended outside the venue in dealing informally with student questions?
Q8: How should I learn from the completed lecture in preparing for the next one?

Q1: How long should a lecture go for?

  • Remember that an academic hour is 50mins so you should have finished by 10mins to the hour so the next lecturer/students can move into the room
  • If your lecture is timetabled for two hours, you decide if you build in a break or continue through and finish that much earlier
  • Finish on time & finish strongly.

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Q2: Should I ever finish a lecture early?

You need to remember that teaching requires a professional approach, and that you set standards by your own example. You are paid to teach and students pay sometimes substantial amounts for their education. They are entitled to expect good 'service', as like it or not, we are now operating in a more client satisfaction based environment. Students are entitled to believe they will be well educated at university.

However, it would be wrong to say that you never finish a lecture early! There may be occasions where issues arise which cause you to finish before the scheduled end time. These should be the exception rather than the rule though.

For example, you don't time your delivery well and get through the content too quickly. Or you have misjudged the amount of content you thought you needed. Or the technology in the lecture room fails you and you need to alter your medium of presentation. Or you become physically unwell.

The professional teacher reflects on how well s/he is performing and adjusts so that in future an early finish doesn't become the norm. Whilst some students may think it is great to get out of your Lecture early, many may well feel cheated if such a practice becomes ongoing.

Well prepared teachers have 'backup' activities or examples for use in times when they finish early. It can be a good opportunity to work through problems with students.

Also, it is worth getting to know the administration staff and treat them as the equals they are - they will be able to help you an enormous amount work out how the university/faculty/school operates and they will know what is good behaviour for academics and what is not good behaviour. They can help out with equipment, keys, a working photocopier, how to ask for things and where to get funding for projects. In return, do not miss their deadlines or make it so they miss their deadlines. Know how the dependencies work in the university - it helps make sense of why things have to be done when they have to be done.

Q3: What should I do when I'm running out of time in presenting my subject matter?

There are several options for you to consider.

  1. Firstly, you can announce that you will hold over the remaining subject matter until next lecture. This may disadvantage those students unable to attend the next lecture though.
  2. Secondly, you can have pre-prepared a summary slide of the main points of your lecture and jump ahead to it.
  3. Thirdly, you can inform the students that you will post a summary of the remaining matters on DSO for them to access.
  4. Fourthly, as you become more experienced at lecturing and comfortable with the subject matter, you are able to distil the main issues remaining to be covered and give an overview of them, and if not already done, can post the remaining Lecture slides on DSO.
  5. Fifthly, inform the students of the resources they could access if they wish to pursue the remaining matters in more detail.

These suggestions tend to be based on the assumption that lectures are well prepared and lecturers are confident with the subject. If you happen to be lecturing in a Unit which uses shared lecture slides and notes, it is important to be familiar and confident with them before your lecture.

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Q4: How should I bring a lecture to a conclusion?

In your first lecture of semester, reinforce that the lecture is over once you have finished speaking, not when the students decide it is over.
If using PowerPoint, prior to projecting the last slide, make any summaries or announcements you need to - e.g. thank the students for their attention, preview next week's topic - then display the final slide.

Making the content of the last slide 'important' conditions the students to how you conclude your lectures.

Q5: What can I do to effectively bring a lecture to a conclusion in regard to the subject matter?

  1. Review main lecture points/topics - linking to learning objectives is effective
  2. Try a short multi-choice quiz to review lecture - PowerPoint is an effective technology for doing this.
  3. Explain how the topic relates to the previous and next ones.
  4. Explain how the topic may be assessed.
  5. Ask students to write the 3 main things they learnt and drop their response into a box near the exit door- provides you with feedback and allows you to respond next lecture.
  6. Preview the next lecture topic.
  7. Ask students to frame one question about today's lecture that they would ask you.
  8. Remind students of any required reading/self study.
  9. Alert students to what week/stage of semester you are at and the timeframe ahead.
  10. Deliver a famous and relevant quotation.

Q6: What administrative matters should I deal with at the end of a lecture?

Make sure that you make any announcements before you display the last of your lecture slides, as once students see that it is 'the end', they will evacuate very quickly. Once one or two make a move, the rest soon follow!

Some lecturers make their administrative announcements in the middle of the lecture, or before the 5minute break in long lectures. This way they have their attention and the late comers/early leavers do not miss out.

Matters may include:

  • Assessment dates
  • Required reading
  • Assignment tips
  • Anticipated return of marked assignments
  • 'what you should do this week' announcements
  • process for applying for special consideration
  • reminders to disability students of their need to organise any special exam requirements.

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Q7: Should I spend some time after the lecture is ended outside the venue in dealing informally with student questions?

  • If you have time, then do so.
  • You should be prepared to speak to students after the completion of the formal class. If there is another class coming into the room, you may have to move somewhere else to avoid disrupting the next class. Be aware of groups from your lecture loitering outside in the corridor making too much noise and distracting the next lecture.
  • Students appreciate lecturers who are approachable and interested in them.
  • If your schedule does not permit you to be available after a class, make arrangements to follow up with students at a later time.
  • If questions are involved, invite student to email you for a considered response
  • If information is already available, direct students to relevant section of DSO
  • You have a good opportunity to seek informal feedback about your lecture from students

Q8: How should I learn from the completed lecture in preparing for the next one?

  • Praise yourself for things that went well.
  • Rate your performance out of 10.
  • Seek informal feedback from students after lecture.
  • Invite students to email you with feedback.
  • Think about what seemed to appeal to students and what they seemed disinterested in.
  • Complete a 'Self Reflection Checklist' (page 9) such as the one devised by Marcia Devlin [accessed 24 April 2007]
  • Reflect on the level of understanding you 'pitched' your lecture at - did you observe a lot of blank looks?
  • Did you speak too quickly?
  • Did you have to rush through too many slides?
  • Were your slides too detailed; too hard to read?
  • Did students seem flustered trying to keep up with your pace?
  • Ask colleagues for their opinion on the resources you are using to support your teaching.
  • Listen to your lecture if it is recorded on iLecture.
  • Arrange for someone to video your lecture so you may review your presentation later.
  • Were your own notes effective in guiding you through the lecture?
  • Did you 'forget' to mention some things you had meant to mention?
  • Did you know what the next slide was before you projected it?
  • At mid-semester, conduct a short survey - ask students how your lectures are going and are they learning what you expect them to be learning.


A definite and strong finish to your lecture has the effect of reinforcing structure to students. They were informed by your beginning of what the objectives for the lecture were. You have delivered the content. You now reinforce the content by your strong finish.

The 'sandwich' approach, or as some say - 'tell them what you are about to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you have just told them' - can be a strong reinforcer to learning.

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1st December 2010