Skip main navigation

Lectures: Signposts

Lecturer use signpost phrases to help their audience to follow. In this article you can learn about some common examples of signpost phrases.

Signpost phrases

During a lecture, the speaker will use various signpost phrases which will help to guide you through the lecture. These signposts have different functions (or purposes).

For example, the lecturer might say As you can see… to refer to a visual on the lecture slides. In this example:

  • As you can see… = signpost
  • Refer to visuals = function

Here are some more examples of signpost functions:

Introduction Body Conclusion
– Welcome the students

– Outline the parts of the lecture

– Introduce the main subject of the lecture

– Refer to information the students heard earlier

– Refer to visuals

– Order steps

– Rephrase information

– Give instructions

– Summarise the lecture

– Give a future action

– Show that it is the end of the lecture

Task 1: Introduction Signposts

Listen to parts of the lecture introduction that you watched before. Match the functions below (A-C) to the signposts you hear (1-3).

The signposts are in bold.

A. Welcome the students
B. Outline the parts of the lecture
C. Introduce the main subject of the lecture

1 Good morning everyone, and welcome back.
2 Today we are going to be thinking about gravity.
Now, of course gravity is something we are all familiar with, it’s what keeps me standing here in front of you, and it’s what brings me back down to the ground if I jump up in the air. But we haven’t always understood gravity the way that we do today.
So 3 I’m going to start with a brief summary of the history of gravity, before moving on to talk about how we can calculate the effect of gravity on different objects, and finally we’ll look at an experiment that uses gravity to test reaction times.

You can download the answers to Task 1 here: ANSWERS

Task 2: Body Signposts

Now listen to parts of the lecture body. Match the functions below (A-D) to the signposts you hear (1-4).

A. Refer to information the students heard earlier
B. Refer to visuals
C. Order steps
D. Rephrase information

1 Now, as I mentioned earlier, the force of gravity on Earth means that falling objects have a constant acceleration of 9.8m/s2. We can use this to test reaction time. A person’s reaction time is how long they take to respond or react to something. I conducted an experiment to find my visual reaction time.
2In other words, how long it takes me to respond to seeing something change. The materials for this experiment were a ruler and a pencil. This was the method.
3First, my colleague held a ruler between my thumb and fingers like this. Then she dropped the ruler, and I caught the ruler as quickly as possible. Next, I marked the place on the ruler where I caught it. Then, I changed the distance from centimetres to metres. Finally, I used this formula to calculate my reaction time: time equals the square root of two times the distance divided by acceleration due to gravity.

[t = sqrt{frac{2d}{a}}]

To increase the reliability of the experiment, I repeated it 5 times.
4 Here are the results. After I had all the results, I found the average. My average reaction time was 0.2s.

You can download the answers to Task 2 here: ANSWERS

Task 3: Conclusion Signposts

Finally, listen to parts of the lecture conclusion. Match the functions below (A-D) to the signposts you hear (1-5). You need to use one of the functions twice.

A. Give instructions
B. Summarise the lecture
C. Give a future action
D. Show that it is the end of the lecture

1 Okay, so hopefully now you have a better understanding of the historical context surrounding the concept of gravity, and how it can be used in calculations.
2 You’ll need to be able to use the constant for gravitational acceleration to complete calculations in your end of semester test
3 so make sure you are familiar with the formulas we looked at today and you know how to apply them.
4 I’ll put the lecture notes up online with some practice questions to help you with this.
5 Okay, that’s it for today. Enjoy your afternoon and I’ll see you all next week.

You can download the answers to Task 3 here: ANSWERS


There are many different signposts that can be used in lectures and talks.

Do you know any other examples of signposts? Share your ideas in the comments below.

This article is from the free online

English for STEM: Understanding Science Vocabulary

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now