How to kick start your lecture!

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Picture the following scenario. You are about to give a lecture to a large cohort of students. It is minutes before the lecture and you are standing behind the lectern arranging your notes. You look at your watch and realise that it is now almost time to start. The class is filled with students leisurely chatting about last night’s party. Some students have only just arrived and are trying to find a seat.

Your challenge:

How to start your lecture on a positive note that will get your students’ attention and engage them from the very beginning?

A simple way to achieve this is by using a short quiz at the start of each lecture. This quiz can consist of four to five questions on topics covered during the previous lecture. The quiz can take any form you prefer; e.g. true/false statements, multiple choice questions, fill-in-the-blank statements or even an activity requiring students to match items in column A with those in column B.

You can incorporate the quiz on your first lecture slide and gradually go through each question/statement asking your students to vote, by a show of hands, for the correct answer. You may wish to engage further with your students by asking them to justify why they think A, and not B, is the correct answer. Some of the questions asked may wish to remind them of important concepts covered in the previous lecture, while other questions may want to steer them to think about certain notions in more depth (you may want to make these questions trickier). A quiz like this should not take more than 5-7 minutes to go through.


Some of the benefits of using a short quiz at the beginning of each lecture are:

  • It forms an excellent tool to interact with your students at the start of each lecture and get their attention.
  • It enables students to test their understanding of previous materials and to clarify any confusion they may have. In that sense, the quiz constitutes a direct form of feedback.
  • The quiz reminds students of concepts covered in the previous lecture making it easier for them to retain this knowledge. At the same time the quiz forms a “bridge” between lecture topics, making the transition from one lecture topic to the next appear smoother.
  • Students find it a useful and fun way to start their lectures.

Past feedback has indicated that students genuinely enjoy taking part in the short quiz at the start of each lecture, as it makes their learning experience appear effortless and fun.

Why don’t you give it a try?


Dr Danielle Lyssimachou is a Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Course Director of the BSc Accounting & Finance degree at Cass Business School, City University London. You can contact Danielle via email:


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