Don't Grab That Lectern!


Most of the time the best policy for speakers is to stand out in the open. Don’t stand behind tables or lecterns if you can avoid it. 

Standing in an open space is perhaps the most difficult for shy people, but is much more effective. Even standing beside the speaker’s table or lectern can be a good compromise, so you can peek at your notes but still be open to the audience.

But there are some formal situations where you have to stand behind a lectern. Here you have no choice and you simply have to stand behind the lectern like everyone else. But you can still decide for yourself how to stand, and this can make a difference.

Watching debates in the Swedish parliament I notice that there are some people who grab the lectern firmly with both hands, as if they are afraid it will try to run away, or if they are afraid of falling over. This projects insecurity and perhaps even a hint of aggression. 

Other people rest their hands lightly on the top of the lectern, which looks much better and gives you more freedom to emphasize points with hand gestures. It also makes it easier to slide to the next page of your notes.

But the most confident looking speakers are the ones who stand behind the lectern but keep their hands in the air, using the lectern only to support papers, not themselves. This projects the sense that you are relaxed and sincere. At the same time, it makes hand gestures more natural.

This is by far the best way to use a lectern. Just say to yourself that it is to hold the papers, not to prop up a shaky speaker. If you find this difficult at first you can try resting your hands on the top of the lectern. The one thing that you should always avoid is to grab the sides.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing
If you would like an interesting and useful lecture, an interactive workshop or one-to-one coaching about advanced speaking techniques you can contact me by email using speaker@andrewhennigan.com or by phone on +46 73 089 44 75.

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