Presenting From a Lectern? Don’t “Hunch, Hold or Hide”

 I usually don’t recommend giving a presentation from behind a lectern because it can become a barrier between you and the audience and make it harder for you to engage them.

However, sometimes you have no choice because there is no other place for you to stand without blocking the big screen or the microphone you need to use is fixed to the lectern. 

If you must use the lectern, avoid these 3 mistakes to ensure the lectern doesn’t interfere with your ability to communicate confidently and clearly with your audience:

1)      Don’t hunch over the lectern

Stand up straight so you appear energized and confident.  Resist the urge to slouch over the lectern.  Adjust the microphone to your height rather than lowering your head and slumping to meet the microphone.    

If you use notes, make sure the words are in large enough font that you can read them easily when they are placed on the lectern and you are standing up straight.

2)      Don’t hold on for dear life

Especially if you are a little nervous about speaking, the tendency is to grip the edges of the lectern so hard that your knuckles turn white, making you look tense and stilted.  Relax your hands at your sides or place them loosely on the lectern; use them for natural gestures, ensuring that they can be seen above the top of the lectern. 

3)      Don’t hide behind the lectern

You cannot be an effective presenter if the audience can only see the top of your head. Practice standing behind the lectern so you know whether you need a step to stand on in order to be seen clearly by the audience.  And don’t use the lectern to block out the audience  - instead use your voice, energy and body language to cross the lectern barrier and engage the audience. 

If you have to deliver a presentation from behind a lectern, avoid these 3 mistakes so you can present with poise, energy and confidence.

 © Gilda Bonanno LLC - Gilda Bonanno serves as a trusted advisor to executives and entrepreneurs to transform their communication, presentation and leadership skills.  She has worked with companies on 4 continents, from Chicago to Shanghai and Rio to Rome.  The instructional videos on her YouTube channel have received over 2 million views and her e-newsletter has reached subscribers in over 45 countries since 2008.  For other articles or to receive Gilda's e-newsletter, visit