How to Detect Important Information During Lectures

Visual Cues

  • Referencing certain pages or diagrams in the text or PowerPoint
  • Underlining information on the board
  • Highlighting information on the board/screen

Verbal Cues

  • Phrases that signal important information: “The most important point here is ….” and “This is significant because ….” and “This will be on the test ….” and “An important ….” and “The basic point is ….”
  • Repeating or rephrasing information (e.g., “Again, this means ….” and “To reiterate ….” and “If we really break down what this means ….”
  • Following up lecture details to check student understanding (e.g., “Does everyone get that?” and “Did that make sense?” and “Any questions about that?”)
  • Summarizing information (e.g., “In summary ….” and “In conclusion ….”)
  • Telling class to “write this down”
  • Listing things in an order (e.g., “First,” and “Secondly,” and “Finally”)

Vocal Cues (Tone of Voice)

  • Information that is delivered more loudly
  • Information delivered more slowly and with more pauses to allow time to take notes
  • Information that is delivered in a higher pitch

Nonverbal Cues

Information delivered with more:

  • Facial expression (more animated or excited)
  • Body movement (gesturing, pointing)
  • Eye contact (looking in the eyes to ensure understanding)

Information delivered:

  • By facing students directly
  • By moving closer to students and away from the board/screen
  • By getting very close to the board and circling details

Generally Important Details

  • Vocabulary and definitions
  • Dates of important events
  • Theories
  • Problems worked on the board
  • Formulas
  • Themes