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.

Do your audience like listening to your wedding speech?

There are very few weddings that do not have some time dedicated to people at the top table to speak about or on behalf of the Bride & Groom. Some do this before the meal, some do it during the meal (between the courses) and most do it after the meal (the correct time to do it really!). The audience might be hungry before the meal, dislike being interrupted while they eat and want time to digest the meal i.e. after the meal, which is the best time to speak to them. But whenever you and / or the Bridal Party decide to speak, will your audience like listening to you?

Well, you hope they will! I guess it all depends on your speech content and how you deliver it. Have you considered the following?

  • Having all of your speech on paper
  • Using the microphone correctly
  • Speaking about the Bride & Groom in equal measure
  • Covering all the ‘Thank you’ s’ only once
  • Standing up
  • Not speaking over applause
  • Not saying too much
  • Not saying too little
  • Avoiding inappropriate stories, jokes or anecdotes
  • Knowing what you must say according to your title on the day
  • Enjoying it…!

The above list is far from exhaustive, there are many more things that you can do and say that makes sure that the audience enjoy your speech and remember it for a long time for the right reasons.

If your job title on the day of a wedding warrants a speech or people are expecting you to speak, do put in the effort and start this effort weeks, indeed months before the wedding day. It will be worth it. Be the one that the audience love to listen to, be the one that they envy and be the one that makes the Bride & Groom delighted that you are part of their life past, present and / or future…

 

A long speech or a short speech…?

You have many times, some times or will some time soon hear a wedding speech from a Bestman, Father of the Bride / Groom, Bride and / or Groom. It will be either a long speech or short speech. There is never a medium length speech and you will never hear anyone say that the speech was the perfect length. It will either be too long or too short! Most of us would error on the short, don’t you agree, while some will write a speech that they think is short, but to the audience / listeners it is / was too long.

So, should you write a long speech or a short speech? Well, it depends on who and what you are writing about, though for the aforementioned speakers this does not really matter. Write down everything you want to mention and speak about as headings or sections in your speech draft. Then write about them in a way that explains how you feel about them and in a way that your audience can appreciate, relate to and enjoy the way you are explaining and feeling about them.

Write to the point and don’t overdo the detail. Don’t dwell too much on one person and one thing. Have variety in the speech making it interesting. Think of the five ‘W’s and one ‘H’ i.e. Who, What, Where, When, Why and How to develop good narrative. Add body to each part of your speech and review it on paper (easier to proof read), continuing to do this until you are satisfied.

You will then question yourself, is the speech too long? You are unlikely to think the speech is too short. If you feel the speech is too long, then you have wrote too much about that particular person or that particular thing!

Rule of thumb is that your speech should be between 9-11 minutes without interruption.

Say what you want to say, it’s a once off, all of these people will never be together like this again to hear you speak about the people that are important to you in your life…

The Three Things That People Will Remember About Your Wedding…

Your wedding is over. The planning, the expense and attention to detail have hopefully paid off and your guests have had a memorable and unforgettable experience all for the right reasons. If you were to do an evaluation analysis on your wedding, like they do after a training course, what would be the responses? (There’s actually a Blog in that alone!).

Let’s make it easier; what would be the top three things that your guests would remember after one day, one week, one month, indeed one year after your wedding? They say they would remember the following:

  • How well the Bride looked?
  • The wedding venue
  • The speeches

How well the Bride looked?

The Bride is hands down, the centre of attention. All eyes are on them from once they step out into the public eye in their wedding dress. The Groom is also noticed, observed and complimented on, but not as much as the Bride whom will be told at least a thousand times how beautiful they look.

The wedding venue

Where the couple get married and where they celebrate their wedding with their guests is also an important memory for people. The grace and reverence of the wedding ceremony; the ambience, hospitality and surroundings of the wedding venue will stick long in the minds of the guests especially the quality and goodness of the meal, the availability of all types of drinks and beverages and the quality and suitability of the music.

The speeches

Your guests will remember the speeches; who spoke, what they said and how they said it. If the speeches are appropriate, humorous (not always necessary) and heart touching, guests will talk about them for days after and remember them for months after. If anything inappropriate is said that may embarrass the Bride, Groom or their families, guests will talk about it for months after and remember them for years after.

Make your wedding memorable for all the right reasons…

Preparation is key…

For anything we do in life, preparation is key. When we sit down to carry out a task, we give ourselves enough time to plan it, do it and then review it to make sure it is done as well as it possibly can be. Right?

Well, in the ideal world with time on our hands this is what should happen, but this isn’t always the case, especially for tasks that we may not be looking forward to or enjoying doing. This goes especially for tasks that we have to do where we are in the public eye, where people can make an opinion of us by what we do or indeed say.

When it comes to writing and delivering a wedding speech, we tend to put it off to the very last minute, though it is constantly in the back of our minds when we realize that a son, daughter or indeed ‘you’ are about to get married. Is this because we hope it might not happen, or that the passing of time will eventually make us to do it or that it may not happen at all? Possibly one or all three, but nine times out of ten, it will happen and the best approach is to prepare.

When the wedding is about one month away, set a time to start writing your speech and plan to finish it one week before the wedding. Treat it like a project as you would at work or at home. List down the people, things you want to mention, put them in order of priority and then add content and narrative around them (enough to give them and it just recognition). How you deliver your speech is just as important as what you are saying, so practice it as much as you can. And if you can, do a pre-run in the actual wedding venue.

With this preparation, you will deliver a great speech…