Should You Present From Behind a Lectern With a Fixed Microphone?

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

A client recently had to give a presentation in a conference room that had a lectern with a microphone permanently affixed to it.  He asked if he should present from behind the lectern or not. (The ideal situation would have been a handheld microphone or lavaliere that he could clip to his lapel, but these were not available in this case).

The advantage of presenting from behind the lectern was that he could use the microphone so he could be easily heard by the audience.  However, there were disadvantages of presenting from behind the lectern:  there would be a barrier between him and the audience and he was fixed in one spot so he couldn’t move around the room.  

I suggested that he decide what to do by testing the sound in the room.  If he could not be easily heard from the back of the room without the microphone, then he would need to use the lectern. 

If he was going to use the lectern, he should adjust the microphone so it would project his voice without him having to slouch over it.  He should stand up straight and avoid gripping the sides with his hands.  He should not “hide” behind the lectern, but instead, use gestures and eye contact to engage his audience.