The State Change Method


How to deliver engaging live lectures on Zoom

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  • Monotony causes audiences to tune out. Movement causes audiences to become alert.
  • State Change Method: Aim for a state change every 3–5 minutes to break up the monotony of a monologue-style lecture. A state change is anything that punctuates an instructor’s monologue and offers a change in pace that causes students to perk up and snap back to attention.
  • State changes include:
    • breakout rooms
    • asking students to comment in the chat box
    • switching from screen share back to gallery view mode, vice versa
    • asking students to unmute to chime in
    • literally having anyone else talk
    • putting a question on the screen to ask students to reflect silently
    • cracking a joke and adding humor
    • giving the mic to other students to share
    • asking students to pause to internalize what was said
    • Q&A
    • group discussions
  • built around modern audiences that are ==even more naturally restless==–and instead of blaming people for not being able to sit still, the ==responsibility is on the instructor== (that’s you) to make the lectures exciting enough to want to stay awake for.

You are 50% instructor, 50% entertainer

  • Goal as instructor: student transformation.
  • If you’re 90% instructor and 10% entertainer, you’re a college professor.
  • If you’re 10% instructor and 90% entertainer, you’re a human incarnation of a BuzzFeed video.

A conversation versus a performance

  • You don’t “lecture” to a group of 5 people. You have a conversation with them.
  • When you’re in a small group, the dynamics are different because the tone is conversational.
  • On the other hand, lecturing to a room of 100+ people in Zoom is a different story. The instructor can’t personally jump in to save the conversation anymore. This is why I recommend instructors ==practice teaching to a large enough audience where they can’t just rely on personalized attention to individual students to carry the day.==

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  • When you lecture for a larger group, the dynamics switch from a conversation to more of a performance. You still want to be conversational, but now you are ==performing for a group.==

Just say no to monologues

1. Vary your pace/style: Fast and slow, loud and quiet.

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2. Fight the urge to tell. Embrace the Socratic method and ask instead.

3. Add interactivity. And then add some more.

  • small group discussions
  • hands on projects
  • critique/feedback
  • Q&A
  • role playing
  • time to hear from other students
  • 1:1 pairs
  • analyze case study vs analyze own situation
  • solo exercises
  • reflection questions

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