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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Online Instruction


This section contains ideas for how instructors can interact and connect with their audience in ways which will enhance engagement with lesson and course content.

Basic Tips

  • Eye contact is important.  Try to practice enough that you can look up from your notes at your audience.
  • Some people work best with note cards and brief outlines, some work best with all comments fully written out. Figure out which one of those applies to you and proceed accordingly. 
  • Most people speak much too fast; make an effort to slow down. If you are reading from a page for example, you should aim for about 100 to no more than 150 words per minute. That means a double spaced 12 pt. font page will take a little over two minutes. 
  • Some things that are clear when written out are confusing when read out loud. Think about what your instruction will sound like out loud as you practice. Consider adding in commas where you might pause to emphasize a point when speaking. 
  • It sounds cheesy, but smiling while you speak will change your tone and make you sound warmer; so even if you have to fake it until you make it, try to smile a little bit as you present. 
  • Stories and storytelling can help ideas stick better than just a recitation of fact, so look for places to show instead of just tell. 
  • Repetition is OK when you’re public speaking. It helps the audience retain ideas when you repeat them.
  • Repetition is OK when you’re public speaking. It helps the audience retain ideas when you repeat them.
  • If you are using PowerPoint or other supplemental teaching materials, have visuals that illustrate what you’re saying, but don’t just write out everything you will likely say on your slides. It will divide your audience’s attention. 
  • For online presenting if you are using Powerpoint or other supplemental teaching materials, practice in advance setting up the presenter mode so the notes screen doesn’t end up being the one that your audience sees. If you have dual monitors, have the notes page up on the one with the camera so you can look at the camera while also reading. Still make sure to pause to look directly at camera from time to time.

Additional Reading

  1. "Survive the Jitters: Tips from the Trenches for New Library Teachers trying to Beat Stage Fright ", American Library Association, September 4, 2014.

  2. Yale - Public Speaking for Instructors - Speaking without Fear
  3. Yale - Public Speaking for Instructors - The Mechanics of Speaking
  4. Free Coursera Course on Public Speaking
  5. BYU Theatre Group Exercise for Stagefright