This is a common question. The first point is that the piece of furniture that speakers often stand behind is a lectern not a podium. A podium is a small stage that you stand upon while a lectern is a high desk upon which lecturers place their notes and stand behind.
Should you stand behind the lectern?
Not if you can avoid it because your speech will tend to feel like a lecture to your audience – which is almost always boring.
Hiding behind the lectern means the audience can barely see you. The less they can see of you the less they can judge your body language and hence measure your believability.
Also the more difficult it is to see you the less inclined they are to listen. We listen better when we can see where the noise is coming from.
If possible arrange to stand centre stage with your body fully exposed to the audience. Although you might feel uncomfortable you can look more open, vulnerable and surprisingly more powerful.
What if you’re forced to use the lectern because that’s where the only microphone is and/or you need a light to refer to your notes?
If possible stand slightly to the side of the lectern so that your body is partly exposed. Turn the lectern slightly if you can. It’s best to make these changes before the audience is in the room.
But don’t lean on the lectern and don’t grip it.
Is it ever beneficial to speak while standing behind the lectern?
• you’re delivering a scientific paper
• you’re delivering a legal statement or proclamation
• the lectern defines a position of power and credibility that you might not have.
Stand behind the lectern if you are irrelevant to the message. Get away from the lectern if your credibility is important to the message.George Torok was a shy student who learned how to speak in public. He has delivered over 1,000 professional presentations. He trains professionals, specialists and sales teams to deliver Superior Presentations. He coaches executives and leaders to deliver million dollar presentations. Visit www.SpeechCoachforExecutives.com or www.Torok.com © George Torok. You may reprint or quote this information as long as you quote the source and link back to this site. www.QuestionsAboutPublicSpeaking.com