How to give a lecture that will break your students’ spirits

First, you’re gonna want to check your subject matter: is it difficult?  Brachial plexus difficult?  If so, fantastic – you’re done.

But if it’s not, just remember: God invented Powerpoint for the express purpose of making lectures harder than necessary. (Pretty sure there’s a bible verse about it and everything). You’ve got this.

As a “not that difficult” example, let’s use “hypertension and the kidneys”.  It’s perfect for our discussion because I remember enough highlights to BS this entry without the effort of reaching for my Robbins – which happens to be across the room, propping up a wobbly nightstand.

And, hey, if my fact-checking laziness isn’t enough to get you all fired up about seeing med students suffer, I don’t know what is. Maybe if I tell you that my class will be rounding on your patients in 6 months, despite the fact that most of us are younger than the Olsen twins? Or that I’m 24, but my dad still does my taxes? This is just me trying to help you not help me.

1.  Ask yourself “What’s the absolute minimum I want my students to remember?”  Condense it to 3 points.

2.  Good.  Those 3 points are now blacklisted, and at no point during your lecture can you use any of them.  So let’s make those bullet-points into paragraphs!

Fantastic, with just one problem:  That’s just a big wall of boring text – it kills the slide. You need less boring text and more blank space.


3.  Recent Studies in the Field:  So what are the best, most up-to-date conclusions about this topic?

4.  Hahaha, no, don’t say that.  In fact, don’t say anything.  Dig up the original paper, find the graphs that look most likely to induce cataclysmic seizures, and go to town.  There’s no need to actually spell out the study’s conclusion.

While you’re at it, add 5+ slides explaining the study’s methodology. (BONUS POINTS for confusing us by explaining the proposed mechanism of the old, debunked theory first.)

"Clearly, the incredible conclusion of their study speaks for itself."

5.  Oh, come on.  You can totally fit one more graph on that sucker.

"Like this?"


11 thoughts on “How to give a lecture that will break your students’ spirits

  1. Sweet! I’m starting to teach medical students and junior residents, and this is just the inspiration I need! Do you mind if I copy the technique in your last slide?

  2. But… there are no Blue And Yellow Sheets of Death? I had a supervisor recommend that I use blue-and-yellow sheets because ‘white is really blinding’. Yeah right.

  3. Seriously laughed out loud in my cubicle at work. Thanks for all the looks I got; computer engineering is never funny so I’m sure they realized I was slacking off. Lesson learned: never read AP in the library, on the toilet or at work.

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