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Library Instructors' Toolkit : During class

Teaching Styles

When finding your style in teaching, try to consider the following:

  • Learning styles often influence teaching styles.  If you learn best in a certain way, you may be most comfortable teaching to that particular learning style.  That is okay, but try to address multiple learning styles in your teaching.  This may mean venturing a little out of your comfort zone in the beginning, but it will get easier with practice.
  • Be authentic.  Although you may be altering your style in order to address more learning styles or in order to better connect with your audience, you still want to do so in a way that reflects your personality.  For example, if you are great with one-liners for humor, by all means, use that.  However, if this does not come naturally to you, it may come across as awkward in the classroom.  Relax and be your best teaching self.

Presentation Skills and Techniques

Attitude: Enthusiasm will take you a long way toward connecting with your audience.  Show interest in what you teach and in your audience.  Take deep breaths and try to be relaxed.  Try greeting students before class begins.

Voice: Make sure your audience can hear you.  Use inflection in your voice.  This creates variety in your presentation and can serve to help emphasize a point or bring closure.  Speak directly to your audience without turning away.  Pace yourself--try not to speak too fast or slowly.  Use pauses, in addition to inflection, to creat variation and emphasis, and also, since attention spans run in cycles, this allows your audience to catch up!

Language: Ask questions of your audience to keep them engaged and to clarify content. Use metaphors and analogies to help your audience understand concepts better.  Try not to use too much library jargon, and whenever used, be sure to explain its meaning.

Body: Use open movements rather than crossing your arms or tensing your shoulders--you'll relax more!  Use gestures rather than just keeping your arms at your sides.  Move around the room on occasion. 

Eye contact: Maintain eye contact with your audience rather than looking over or between them.  Pan the room so that you are not favoring individuals or one side of the room over the other.  This can help you to connect with the audience and serves to provide feedback to you, such as seeing confused expressions or nods of understanding.

Facial expression: Just as with your body language, allow your facial expressions to unfreeze right from the start.  Greet your audience with a smile and convey your interest in your subject, concern for your audience, etc.  Match facial expression with any emotion you want to get across rather than letting your face settle into a serious expression throughout the session.

ALA LIRT Research Committee "Library Instruction Teaching Tips: Presentation Skills."