Most people love to hide behind the lectern.. It makes them feel more secure. The only reason speakers should use a lectern is to hold notes. Here are a few guidelines to make the lectern work for you.
Don't lean. Create some space. Step back six to twelve inches from the lectern so that you can't lean against it.
Stand up straight. Slumping posture will create a sloppy appearance. Anchor your feet. If you sway back and forth, you'll look like a buoy bobbing in the water. You don't want to put people to sleep with hypnotic movement.
Prepare the lectern in advance. Put a glass of water underneath it. Position your notes for maximum readability. Get familiar with any dials or buttons. Know how to turn on the reading light. Adjust the microphone. You don't want to be fumbling with the panel.
Use gestures. The lectern is a barrier. If your gestures are waist high, your audience members won't see them. If you don't use gestures, you'll appear stiff.
Push your energy. You're not entirely visible and you're reading your notes. So increase your vocal variety and enthusiasm. It may seem exaggerated to you, but it will sound just right to the audience.
Step to the side of the lectern. Don't stay glued behind a wall of wood. Begin your presentation by stepping out in front to make your opening remarks. Then step behind the lectern to begin your speech. Find places where you can come out once again by telling a short story or giving an example. This helps you to connect with the audience.
Adjust the lectern for height. In some case, you may be able to request a special lectern if you're very tall or very short. If you're shorter than 5 feet three inches, you may want to stand on a platform behind the podium to give you added height. Another option is to use a table podium.
Don't make the lectern a barrier between you and your audience. Practice these principles for a polished presentation.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
Diane DiResta, President of DiResta Communications, Inc. is an International speaker, training coach, and author of Knockout Presentations: How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch, and Pizzazz. To subscribe to Impact Player, a free online newsletter visit http://www.diresta.com