The Art of Speaking with a Podium / Lectern…

(October 2019)

Podiums / lecterns can help or hamper a speaker. Some people sometimes hide behind them. Some grasp on to the sides for dear life.  Having said all of that, a podium/lectern is a great speaking medium if you are delivering a speech or making a presentation.

Halina Saint James shares 10 tips on using a podium/lectern when having to public speak:

  1. Make sure the podium / lectern’s height is correct for you.
  2. If the podium / lectern is a modern acrylic see-through type, keep what you place on it to a minimum i.e. just your notes.
  3. You don’t have to stand behind the podium. You can stand to the side and have your notes on the podium/lectern. Then you can glance at them as needed. This won’t work, of course, if you are using a microphone that’s part of the podium/lectern.
  4. If you are behind the podium/lectern, stand back a step or two from it. This will keep you from clutching or leaning on it. It will encourage you to use your hands naturally. This will, in turn, enhance your authentic voice.
  5. Make sure the notes, water and props etc. are yours and not something another speaker placed there or is / has been using.
  6. Take a few seconds to get yourself comfortable at the podium/lectern before you speak. Adjust the microphone and place your notes the way you want them. Keep your eyes away from the audience as you do this. When you’re ready to speak, lift your head, look at the audience, smile and begin.
  7. If the podium / lectern has a light and you’re using it, make sure it doesn’t obscure your face.
  8. Don’t be afraid to place your podium / lectern exactly where you want it (depending on its size and weight). It’s usually better placed to the left hand side from the audience’s view point, especially if you’re using PowerPoint slides.
  9. Standing behind a podium / lectern can separate you from the audience, which is fine as the audience do accept this.

What is the distinction between these two mainstays of public speaking i.e. the podium and the lectern.

The podium (pl. podiums or podia) is a raised large heavy platform on which the speaker stands to deliver their speech and indeed place their notes. “Podium” is derived from the Greek word πόδι (pothi) which means “foot”. The word “podiatrist” (foot doctor) comes from the same source.

The lectern is a raised, slanted light stand on which a speaker can place their notes. “Lectern” is derived from the Latin word lectus, the past participle of the verb legere, which means “to read”. The word “lecture” comes from the same source. There are tabletop lecterns and there are standalone lecterns, that come in all sizes.

Writing and delivering an unforgettable Wedding Speech (for all the right reasons)…

Whether you are a Bride, Groom, Bestman, Father of the Bride, Father of the Groom, the time has / will come where you are faced with writing and delivering a wedding speech that will probably be the most important speech you will deliver in your lifetime before family, relations and friends. You may have done it before, you may not have done it before or this may be your first and only time or you may have more to do in the future. Whatever your situation, treat this wedding speech has the first and last one as people are looking forward to what you are going to say.

To make your speech memorable for all the right reasons, time, persistence and dedication to the cause are three prime ingredients in the writing of the speech.

Time

Start thinking about and writing your speech weeks, even months before the actual wedding. Writing this speech, indeed any speech takes time.

Persistence

Set time aside to write some of it every day and keep at it until you have the first draft completed. Don’t lay up on it until you have achieved this.

Dedication

Enjoy writing it. You are writing about someone or people you love in your life and who are very important you. Give them justice in your speech.

To make your speech unforgettable for all the right reasons; pace, pausing and voice projection are the three prime ingredients in the delivery of your speech.

Pace

You must deliver your speech at the right pace, saying every letter in every word, so as not to speak fast (the main challenge in public speaking).

Pausing

Pause after every comma, full-stop and at the end of every paragraph to allow the audience react to what you have said and allow you to take a breadth.

Voice projection

You need to speak differently to how you would normally speak to people on a one to one. Use inflection techniques by hitting words hard, hitting words soft.

How will I remember my wedding speech…?

Whether you have to deliver a Father of the Bride Speech, Father of the Groom Speech, Groomsman Speech, Bridesmaid Speech, Bride Speech, Groom Speech and / or a Bestman Speech; you have a lot to say, with the speech content being different for all of the above speakers, but with one common theme i.e. the Bride & Groom.

For many speakers, the main concern is, ‘How will I remember my wedding speech?’, ‘How will I stay on track?’ and How will I make sure that I don’t forget anybody or anything?’. Speaking off the cuff is fine if you are able to do this and ‘wing it on the day of the wedding’, which some of us can, but most of us can’t. We the latter, need some form of speaking medium i.e. notes.  

There are five options to consider re; notes, namely;

  1. Pointer cards
  2. Full paper script
  3. Smartphone
  4. iPad
  5. Laptop

Pointer cards

Pointer cards are used to write down the main key points or keywords in your wedding speech. You will need to remember what each word/point means and be able to expand upon it, based on pre-speech practice and rehearsal. They are normally held in your hand, though can be left on the table too.

Full paper script

Here your full speech is written on paper in large font in front of you. The paper is normally left on the table and you basically have to read it out. There is no pressure in trying to remember any part of the speech, as it is all there in front of you. One must be careful, not to just read it out and lose the connection/rapport with their audience.

Smartphone

You can use your smartphone to have speech pointers on it or your full speech on it. The device is small and therefore could be difficult to manage and will have to be held in your hand. Might not look all that professional.  

iPad

You can use your iPad to have speech pointers or your full speech on it. The device is a nice size and can be held in your hand or left on the table.  

Laptop

Finally, the laptop is an option, though it can be and look big and awkward. It can have speech pointers or your full speech on it. The device will have to be left on the table.

What speaking medium suits you for your wedding speech, I know what I would choose…!

Start early…

When it comes to any major event, any and every Event Manager will tell you to ‘start early’. And there is no bigger event than arranging a wedding, probably the biggest event any couple will do in their lifetime, demanding a start time 2-3 years in advance in some cases. Breaking down the wedding in to its many components is the trick and then tackling each one in turn until complete is the key i.e. a developing a plan or worklist, where everybody and everything is included.

One of the key components to a wedding is the wedding speeches, that most times is last on the list or plan and sometimes doesn’t even make it on the list or plan. Why is this? For a lot of people, they feel that they will ‘wing’ the wedding speech on the day; they will write their wedding speech nearer the time or on the morning / day of the wedding or they don’t want to think about the wedding speech, because the thought of it upsets / worries them. The wedding speech is the one thing about the wedding that they are simply not looking forward to and hate doing it. But deep down they know it has to be done and they just keep putting the writing and delivery of the wedding speech on the long finger.

Don’t procrastinate and start early by;

• Purchasing a small notebook and pen (or using your smartphone note page)
• Immediately writing down people and things and what you want to say about them as they come to mind
• Opening up a Word document and transferring these into it by drafting the structure / content of the speech
• Doing something on the wedding speech everyday or every few days at least until complete
• Putting the main finishing touches to the wedding speech
• Practicing it
• Putting it away until a few weeks before the wedding and then fully completing it with a final practice rehearsal in the hotel venue

Start early…