Should You Speak Behind a Lectern?


I suggest you do not use a lectern. Standing away from the lectern exposes your full body to the view of the audience. You appear more vulnerable, open and trustworthy. The added benefit is that you also appear more powerful and confident with your message.

How Can You Use a Lectern Effectively?

It is helpful to have a stand on which to put your notes. The problem is most speakers hide behind lecterns thereby greatly constraining important body language. 

I urge you to use as few notes as possible. Notes are essential only when you must read a prepared speech, or give a presentation in a foreign language. In that case, a lectern with a light and microphone will help you get through your talk smoothly.
Lecterns do make things look official. (Judges always hide behind a lectern.) The seriousness of your topic, the occasion, and the degree of formality in the audience may require that you use one. If so, plan to start and end behind it, but deliver most of your presentation away from the lectern with your whole body in full view.
There is one important rule about lecterns: Don't keep your hands gripped on the sides!  This draws listeners’ attention to your nervousness and restrains your body language. 

There are times when you might purposely grip the sides of the lectern to add emphasis to your words. Grasp the lectern only once or twice and lean toward the audience to make your critical points. The contrast helps emphasize what you are saying. 

Practice speaking comfortably without a lectern. If one is available, use it to hold your notes but do not hide behind it as you deliver your talk or you will reduce the power of your presentation.

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