Self-Neutered Lecturers (Speakers, Presenters)

With my dissertation officially complete, I have… gasp… free time to do any number of things.  Tonight, I lost myself for an hour or more in long neglected RSS Feeds and was up long past my bedtime.  Rather than reading specific feeds, I took the mixed bag of the top level folder and just started reading and watching content in one post/article after another.

Two items stand out in my mind at the moment.

Taking the two presentations juxtaposed, there’s a stronger message for me than perhaps either of the two presentations in isolation.  I want to give this more thought, but briefly and roughly…..

For me, Ebert’s salient message is that our own human voice is an inextricable part of our own identity, and if we lose the ability to speak, from his experience, we are compelled to forge a new identity.  We are forced to “remake [our] voice.”

From Downe’s presentation, my primary take-away can be found a little more than half way through.  Lecture’s are about making a connection – on any number of different levels – between the speaker and the audience.

Taking all of that along with another presentation I viewed on Slideshare at some point in the last couple of days, a common problem with lectures is that the speaker often nullifies, sterilizes, loses, neuters their own voice… their own identity.  The lecture gets transmitted without the personality and identity of the speaker.  The speaker and their Voice become – as Ebert described – disconnected from the speaker… from the audience.  The challenge is to present – with or without technology – without losing the connection that occurs between a speaker and an audience via the speaker’s unique Voice…  Avoid other aspects of the presentation becoming “brighter than the speaker.”

Your thoughts?



  • The major problem with Downe’s argument for the letting the lecture “stand” is that his examples of “lectures” were not academic lectures as defined by Clark, Bligh, and other, they were inspirational speeches.

    • That may true, and the implications of it for Downes’ argument could be debated. However, I don’t think that changes or impacts my interpretation of the problem with most “lectures.” I believe lectures do have value.

      Would you argue that lectures are an inherently flawed activity within current academic institutions? Do they have a place? Why or why not?

  • Lindyaustralia

    I hope you have time to check out the other half of the debate you watched where Stephen presented “for” lectures as Donald Clarke and James Morrison did a great job of presenting “Don’t lecture me!”

    Recording at

    There is also a long and resource filled debate on this topic happening in

    LinkedIn Groups

    Group: Higher Education Teaching and LearningDiscussion:I
    am tasked with building Faculty Development Session to help them move
    away from lecture based and towards engaging learning environments. Any
    links/urls you might direct me to.
    Some great material there.


    PS jealous of your state of freedom. 2 months to go for me.

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