Part of coaching my clients to sound their best involves having them practice delivering their presentation, which also serves as a dress rehearsal.

Many people who use their notes typically hold them, which is not only distracting to the audience but also limiting when it comes to gesturing. The best alternative is to employ the correct use of a lectern.

Here are some best practices or lessons from the lectern:
1. Before you deliver your presentation, find out if a lectern is going to be available the day you’re speaking.
2. If a lectern isn’t available (e.g. small venues or restaurants), provide your own. I use a portable, lightweight, Lucite lectern that I highly recommend. You can purchase it online.
3. The primary purpose of the lectern is to have a place to rest your notes so that you may easily refer to them, as warranted.
4. The lectern is not a resting spot for the speaker… so remember to not get locked behind it for any extended period. If you do, it becomes a barrier between you and your audience. This creates an additional gap that won’t serve you well.
5. Related to the last point is your lectern posture. When you’re behind the lectern, remember to avoid leaning on it or gripping it with your hands and bending forward. Instead, rest your hands lightly on the bottom of the lectern closest to you.
6. Speaking of posture, avoid shifting your weight from side to side, rocking front and back or crossing one leg over the other while standing behind the lectern. Using your feet as your base of support, stand up straight with both feet firmly planted beneath you. Try to get a feeling of being rooted to the ground.
7. While the primary purpose of the lectern is for holding your notes, I highly recommend having room temperature water available within easy reach, while at the lectern. Some lecterns have an open shelf to place a mug or glass.
8. If you opt to use a lectern-based microphone, adjust the angle and proximity of the microphone before you speak so it’s most comfortable for you, doesn’t require you to awkwardly lean forward and makes it easy for your audience to hear you.

Follow these pointers the next time you use a lectern and please contact me for additional lessons from the lectern.