What is the worst thing that happen during a lecture, besides the lecture itself? The answer is falling asleep, a close second is losing your focus. Yes, some lecturers have the charisma of a wet mop and the monotonous voice to go with it, but that is no excuse for falling asleep. The lecture may be boring, but the person standing up there talking has the knowledge and experience in the subject matter and deserves your attention. Okay, so you know you should focus and pay attention, but how?
Be well rested
One mistake people make is trying to sit in on a lecture while extremely tired. This is a recipe for disaster: little sleep, plus long lecture, equals snore city. When you know you have a lecture to attend, make sure you get plenty of quality sleep the night before. Do things that will ensure a good night’s sleep like exercising which can wear you out, relax in a warm bath before bed or sleep with the window open for fresh air (unless its snowing outside). It is easier to remain focused when you are well rested and alert.
No full stomach
Avoid eating a large or heavy meal right before the lecture. These kinds of food on the stomach tend to make the eyes want to shut or at least make it tough to concentrate. By all means, eat a light and satisfying snack/meal before the lecture that way you have fuel for your brain. Besides, a grumbling stomach can make it pretty tough to focus on anything but the nearest vending machine!
Take a notebook and pen with you to the lecture. Not your cell phone (yes, there is probably an app for that) because the cell phone can eventually distract you. Write out the notes by hand, which will keep you focused, if for no better reason than to make them legible. Taking note will force you to pay close attention to what the speaker is saying so you will know what to write down. If the lecture is for a class. then taking good notes will only benefit you since many Profs like to quiz their classes on the lectures.
Interact with the speaker
Ask questions when appropriate times present themselves. Thinking of good questions will keep your mind focused on the lecture and the speaker. It also shows the lecturer that you are listening and have an interest in what they are trying to teach you. This is a good idea, even if you find the subject matter a huge yawn, because you never know when your question can spark an interesting turn in the lecture.
Lectures are not exactly known for being a thrill a minute. This is why you must find creative ways to keep yourself focused. Eliminate possible distractions like ringing cell phones (put it on silent), pagers and any other gadget that makes noise or does cool stuff. Take notes and actively participate by asking relevant questions when possible. You might just find that those lectures go from being snores to a lot of fun, or at least interesting.