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Public speaking tips: What’s the difference bewteen a podium and lectern?

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November 19, 2012

by Andy Saks

These two words are commonly confused in the speaking world.

“Podium” is often used to indicate the raised stand on which a speaker places his or her notes and behind which he or she stands to speak. Acutally, according to thefreedictionary.com, the podium is not the stand, but “the platform on which the speaker stands.” In other words, the podium is the stage itself.

When people say “podium,” they usually mean “lectern.” A lectern, also according to thefreedictionary.com, “is the stand on which the speaker’s notes are placed.”

So when someone tells you to stand at the podium and you want to impress them with your speaking prowess (and geekiness), you should quickly retort, “Actually, [sir or madam], I shall stand on the podium and speak at the lectern. I said good day!”

While we’re at it, a “dais” is a platform for several people, and a “rostrum” is a platform for one or more people.

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