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Difference between a presentation and a lecture

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A lecture is one person delivering information to a group

Hi, what is the difference between a presentation and a lecture? I’m Shola Kaye and I’m a speaker coach and a presenter based in London. Let me answer your question and these are purely my own thoughts. But a lecture, if you can imagine that you’re at a college or a university and you go into a lecture and you have many people and you’ve got one professor or one speaker, and that person is there typically to educate. So they may have slides, maybe you’ve got a handout of your own that you’re following along with, but it’s very much a one-way communication. You’ve got the one person who’s lecturing to everybody else. And the idea is that everyone is taking down their notes, scribbling things down and that is a lecture. So it’s very much one person delivering information to everybody.

A presentation is an interactive experience

If you are in a presentation, I see a presentation as being a little different than that. And typically in a presentation, maybe you’re delivering information, maybe you are educating people, maybe you are there to persuade or to even make a sales presentation. But typically in a presentation, you might be wanting your audience to take some form of action at the end. Even if it’s that their ideas are slightly different at the end compared to at the beginning, because you’ve changed those ideas with your information. But the idea behind a presentation, it’s more of an active session that’s going on. There’s more interaction between the audience and the presenter than in a lecture, there’s an intent of more activity and a little bit more change at the end of it.

My view of lectures is that they give the audience something valuable

So as I say, with a lecture, a lecture could be, I’m here to just tell you my views on this thing. Fantastic if you take something away that was of value to you. If you didn’t, that’s fine. Whereas with a presentation, you could see a presentation as being unsuccessful, let’s say, if the presenter wasn’t able to get their ideas across properly to the audience. So I guess if I condense it down, I would say that if you’re a lecturer, you’re there to just give that information out. Boom, I’ve done my job. I’ve lectured these people. And of course there can be good and bad lecturers, but I’ve lectured them. I’ve told them what I’ve got to tell them. I’m done, bam. Whereas with the presentation, there’s an expectation amongst the audience that they are going to get something from that. Not just the thoughts of one person, whether they’re delivered in a good way or not, in an easy to absorb way or not.

A presentation aims to inspire change or action in the audience

But what’s the next step for me after this presentation? Am I going to buy something? Am I going to be educated enough to make a next step? Am I now informed of something I didn’t know about before? Am I now going to change my life? So I see a presentation as being an audience that’s more active and wanting some change to happen after they’ve listened to the presentation. Again, that’s purely my opinion on this and you may disagree, but we can agree to disagree. That’s it from me for now. I hope that was helpful. Take care.

Shola Kaye is an award-winning speaker, author and professional speaker coach with clients around the world. Her work has been mentioned in Forbes, Harper’s Bazaar and on the BBC.
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