Communication Tips for a Successful Teaching Experience

Effective teaching is about communicating and interacting wisely with students: Integrating substance and style to your messages allow you to optimize learning by supporting intellectual excitement and interpersonal rapport. Indeed, students learn best when instructors are interested and interesting!

Now, consider the following two questions: What and how is the course content communicated? How do you enhance the students-professor pedagogical relationship? Here are some tips to guide you in answering those questions:

  • Be interested in students:
    • Welcome them at the beginning of class, look at them, smile, use inclusive pronouns (‘we’ instead of ‘I/you’), learn several names, say goodbye when ending the class.

  • Do not read your notes or slides!
    • Tell a story. Talk from key messages or words.
    • Conjure up images by using analogies and metaphors.
    • Provide examples, simulations and use current events from the news.
    • Link topic and discussions to students’ experiences as well as your own.

  • Contextualize - objectives, transitions et summaries:
    • Repeat information at different times and in different formats to promote retention and integration of key concepts.
    • Highlight key information – ask students to list or explain important concepts.

  • Limit cognitive overload:
    • Speak to the ‘must-know’ and provide online resources for the ‘nice-to-know’.
    • Pause regularly so students have time to reflect on content or to compare notes with classmates.
    • Have students do activities to actively familiarize themselves with the content and have opinions or critical reflection emerge.

One last advice: Have fun teaching, it is to everyone’s benefit!


Forsyth, D.R. (2016). Chapter 4: Lecturing – Developing and Delivering Effective Presentations (pp. 105-135), in College Teaching: Practical Insights from the Science of Teaching and Learning. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 354p. (Available in e-book format at

Lennox-Terrion, J. (2014) « Revisioning the Large Class » TedX Talk.

Richmond, V.P., Wrench, J.S., Gorham, J. (2009). Communication, Affect, & Learning in the Classroom, 3rd Edition. Printed in the United States. E-book, under the Creative Commons license. 267p. (Available in e-book format)

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