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Best Practices for Synchronous Lectures

In addition to designing all of your resources to be digitally accessible and planning an accessible presentation and delivery, there are several things that should be considered for a synchronous lecture where you can engage with your audience (students) in real time.


  • Follow the guidelines for preparing a lecture.

  • Share your slides or any accompanying materials with your audience in advance. Include your contact information or link to a discussion forum if you welcome follow-up questions after the synchronous session.

  • Know your physical environment, from the software and other technologies you’re using to the layout of the room you may be walking around in, or even the creaking chair you might be sitting in as you’re talking to a webcam.

  • Develop notes that include an outline of your presentation, including reminders of when to pause, etc.

    • Plan your entire delivery to be completed in about two-thirds of the allocated time, or less if you anticipate active learning activities that might require some flexibility.

  • Be prepared for technology to fail. Have a printout of your notes and any slides. You should already anticipate talking through any diagrams or other images as part of your accessibility best practices.

    • If you are presenting online, follow the Strategies for a Stable Zoom Connection.

    • If you are displaying any videos or showing any online resources, make sure to have them downloaded or already opened in a tab on your browser so you don’t have to wait for something to display.

  • Determine whether you can incorporate real-time text transcription and even automated translation, such as with Microsoft PowerPoint’s automatic captioning subtitles in-room, or Zoom’s live transcription for online lectures.


  • Record your lecture. You can pause or edit the recording if there are discussions that need to remain confidential to only the live attendees. Share the recording with its transcript with the class or registered attendees after the lecture.

  • Turn on automatic transcription or captioning, if available.

  • Be mindful of your body language and positioning.

    • Defensive and insecure postures, such as crossed arms or “hiding” behind a podium, create psychological distance and chasms in engagement.

    • Position yourself in a clear line of sight to as many attendees as possible to aid lip-readers and maintain engagement. If you feel comfortable walking, do so without losing that line of sight.

    • Make eye contact with the attendees as opposed to the monitor or whiteboard. Make sure not to favor any individual or group of individuals, for example, those sitting on one side of the room.

  • Project your voice so that it is audible and clear, but without straining yourself.

    • Use a microphone that is suitable to the conditions.

    • Have a bottle of water to both soothe your throat and give moments where you can pause and attendees can reflect.

    • Check-in with your attendees to make certain they can hear you.

  • Refer to your notes for reminders of when to pause, look up, and/or check attendees’ comprehension and engagement.

    • If you have a script, try not to read from it directly unless necessary.

  • Pause every 10 to 20 minutes for “mental breaks,” as well as to give yourself physical breaks. Encourage and welcome questions and dialogue during these interludes and/or use the breaks for short active learning activities.

    • Make sure to restate any questions so that everyone can understand what you’re responding to.

    • Find a method for monitoring questions both in-room and online. Backchannel communication, such as chat that is available to everyone, and/or the assistance of a TA might be useful.

    • Active learning might include traditional classroom activities, such as think-pair-share, or activities that can easily be done online, such as breakout rooms or real-time polling.

  • Be mindful of your allocated time, which is really time “borrowed” from your attendees. Do not put yourself in a position where the most memorable thing about your lecture’s closing is how you ran out of time or rushed, losing a pace that had been set.

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