How you stand along with the lectern impacts how the audience connects with you and your message.
Take a moment to contemplate these questions:
I am sure that most of you would say, “Lectern? What lectern? I don’t even think it existed in that presentation area!”
You may be right. Maybe it was removed from the stage. Or, maybe the speaker got down off the stage and walked among you in the audience. This is a powerful public speaking technique that shows immediate vulnerability on part of the speaker, and builds instant rapport with the crowd.
Conversely, think of some of the worst speakers you have seen. Maybe it’s as easy as remembering some of your old college professors who did not move from the chalkboard. Were you inspired by them? Did you fall asleep? Standing in one place, or leaning on a lectern creates a sleepy effect in your audience just as much as delivering your message in a monotone!
In my own presentations as a trainer, the audiences that have given me the best feedback have not seen me use the lectern (unless absolutely necessary due to technical difficulties associated with the laptop that was placed on the lectern!).
However, many of us rely on a lectern. If you are not ready to move away from or rid of the lectern, remember these tips:
But, I Thought a Lectern Is a Podium!
Yes, even I am guilty of this misnomer. Many confuse lecterns and podiums. Lecterns are stands that cover our bodies (as pictured at the beginning of the post), that people stand behind to present. Podiums are stands people stand on when being awarded a prize. Standing on a podium doesn’t actually cover your body (as seen, right).
Are you preparing a face-to-face or virtual presentation? Would you like feedback on your presentation and English skills to engage a foreign audience (especially if you work on a global, virtual team or you are an expat in the US)? Get in touch with us as we provide coaching and training to help you with your professional mannerisms to impress your US counterparts.
9 Lessons on Public Speaking
How to speak slowly and clearly
Posted 7/2015, updated 6/2020