Here are a few tips on using a lectern. No, it’s not a podium – see wikipedia.
1. If you’re the Toastmaster or Master of Ceremonies, you should try to sit right next to the lectern. This facilitates the transition from one speaker back to the Toastmaster and doesn’t waste everyone’s time waiting for the Toastmaster to walk back up to the lectern from the back of the room.
2. After the Toastmaster introduces a speaker, he/she should lead the applause, wait for the next speaker, shake hands and then let the speaker walk in front to take charge of the lectern.
3. In general, don’t leave the lectern unattended. If you are doing a presentation or an evaluation or any other job, when you are finished, wait until the Toastmaster comes back up to the lectern, shake hands and move on back to your seat.
4. If you’re a speaker and the lectern is cluttered with materials from the previous speaker, go ahead and remove them. On the other hand if you are a speaker and are leaving the lectern, remove your materials so that the lectern is free for the next speaker.
5. If you choose to use notes on the lectern, learn to slide them off to the side rather than turning them over page by page. It’s a bit less distracting.
6. If you are the main or only speaker, try and position the lectern where it will be best for you. You want to be as close to the audience as possible, but you also need to consider whether that position will give you enough lighting. Do you need to bring your own portable light? Are you using a projector and screen? Where is the best place for the lectern in that case?
7. Don’t grab the lectern. It’s not a security blanket and it will only inhibit your normal gestures if you get it in a death lock.
8. Don’t lean on the lectern. It makes you look too casual and a bit lazy. You want an energetic and energized performance, not one that will put people to sleep.
9. While it’s more intimate to get away from the lectern and closer to the audience, realize that by walking out front you may be turning your back on some members of the audience.
10. Ignore the lectern during the first 30 seconds. Memorize your opening , look at your audience and give them that first 30 seconds just like a pro. Then if you have to check your notes glance down at the lectern.
11. If your notes are complicated, you can leave on hand on the lectern to mark your place in the notes and then gesture with your other hand.
12. Don’t read your speech at the lectern. Nothing is more boring than watch a speaker read his/her speech while looking at the lectern.