Helpful lesson outline for your first class or workshop

An old student of mine reached out asking for tips on how to run engaging lectures at university. I typed out my tips and thought I’d share publicly here as well. For insight, this was for lectures delivered around marketing, so some of my recommendations may not apply to hard sciences.

If you run workshops or teach to in person audiences you may find some value in this.

Ask them questions at the start to get them thinking about the importance of what you’re going to teach


  • What is your definition of XYZ? (where XYZ is the topic you’re covering)
  • Why do you think this is important to know?
  • Where have you seen this done well?
  • Where have you seen this done badly?
  • Use case studies to prove a point

At the start of class, show the class some examples that relate to the topic you’ll cover for the day. Get them to divide into groups and discuss what’s wrong about it, or what’s good about it.

In this section you could have fun by either finding something that’s really bad, or designing something really bad to use as an example.

The more examples you have the better. Aim to have at least one example for each teaching point. That way people will remember what you’re teaching and they’ll see its relevance in the real world.

Get them to implement what you teach in class.

Give them a small challenge related to what you’re teaching.

My process was/is:

  • First – give the theory
  • Second – do a class activity to reinforce the theory. The class activity gives you the opportunity to see what people have understood and to work through things they don’t understand.
  • Third – do a group or individual activity so they could have confidence in applying the theory by themselves

In conclusion try to use this template for every new concept/ teaching point:

  1. Give them a general big picture overview of the concept/ teaching point.
  2. Ask them why it’s important and where they’ve seen it in the real world.
  3. Give the theory on the concept/ teaching point.
  4. Give at least one example so they can see how the theory is currently working in the real world.
  5. Do a class activity to reinforce the theory.
  6. Do a group or individual activity so they have confidence in applying the theory by themselves.

If you do this, a one hour lecture will fly extremely quickly and everyone will have a lot of fun and you will be buzzing with energy.

When you create your lesson plan look at things through the perspective of a bored 20 year old, that way you will always keep things interesting and alive.

Good luck, I hope this helps!

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