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The Complete Guide to Podiums & Lecterns

Terra SandersTerra Sanders
February 1st, 2024
~ 5 minute read

Chances are that if you work at a university, attend church, or can regularly be seen in a courtroom, you've encountered a lectern or podium.

If you are now in the process of needing one for your business, let our full guide to lecterns and podiums give you the information you need to know in order to make the best purchasing decision.


What is a Lectern?

Most lecterns consist of a stand with a slanted top that can hold books, a laptop, or notes for a presentation. It is often used in churches, classrooms, lecture halls, and other public speaking settings as a focal point for those giving presentations.

They can be simple and functional, ornately decorated, and even have features like microphones, lights, and storage compartments.

Portable lecterns are frequently used by traveling speakers or in settings with limited space.


Podium Definition

A podium can have several definitions, depending on the context, but the most relevant here is that it is a small, raised platform used in professional situations on which someone stands to give a speech, conduct an orchestra, or receive an award.


What is the Difference Between a Podium and a Lectern?

The terms "podium" and "lectern" are often used interchangeably, which is fine in many cases. However, there are some differences between the two:

Podium:

  • Function: Primarily used to elevate the speaker or performer while helping them to be seen and heard better during a presentation.

  • Design: This can vary, but can have a flat top surface and may also include storage compartments or integrated technology.

Lectern:

  • Function: Primarily used as a reading surface and document holder for professional speakers.

  • Design: As stated above, it typically has a slanted top surface and a lower shelf for storage. Like podiums, it may have features for integrating technology.


The Main Differences

Podiums focus on elevating the speaker during a presentation, while lecterns focus on providing a reading surface for the speaker. Some podiums incorporate lecterns as part of their design, offering both elevation and a reading surface during an event. Podiums can have a flat or slanted top surface, while lecterns almost always have a slanted top surface.

As you can see, the differences are almost minor, which is one reason the terms are so often used interchangeably.


What are Podiums and Lecterns Used For?

Both a podium and a lectern serve a variety of purposes but with slight differences. Here are some of their various uses:

Podiums:

  • Public Speaking: Used by speakers at conferences, meetings, seminars, presentations, rallies, political speeches, and award ceremonies.

  • Conducting: Orchestra conductors use podiums on stage while directing the performance.

  • Presentations: In classrooms, lecture halls, and training sessions, podiums offer a platform for presenters to stand on, displaying visuals and interacting with the audience.

  • Ceremonies: Used for dignitaries and officials during ceremonies like graduations, inaugurations, and award functions.

  • Competitions: In competitions like talent shows or debates, podiums serve as stages for contestants to perform.


Lecterns:

  • Public Speaking: Similar to podiums, used by speakers for reading speeches or texts in various settings.

  • Religious Settings: Found in churches, temples, and mosques, lecterns hold religious texts like the Bible, Quran, or Torah for readings during ceremonies.

  • Courtrooms: Judges and lawyers use lecterns to stand behind while addressing the court.

  • Classrooms: Teachers utilize lecterns to hold lesson plans and materials while delivering lectures.

  • Meetings & Presentations: In boardrooms and meetings, lecterns offer a platform for presenters to hold notes.

  • Press Conferences: Used by spokespersons or representatives to address the media.


What is the Standard Size of a Podium?

While there's no "standard" size for a podium, there are some common dimension ranges that can give you an idea of the general sizes available.

Fixed-height podiums typically range from 45 to 48 inches (114 to 122 cm) and can accommodate people of various heights comfortably.

Adjustable-height podiums offer flexibility, varying from 30 to 56 inches (76 to 142 cm), which can also cater to a wider range of users and situations.

The top surface width is around 20 inches (51 cm) and provides ample space for laptops or other materials. The depth is around 14 inches (36 cm), which helps prevent items from falling off.

The base varies depending on the design but is typically square or rectangular, ranging from 20 to 24 inches (51 to 61 cm) on each side.

Ultimately, the "ideal" size depends on your specific needs and preferences. It's important to choose a podium that provides a comfortable speaking height, plenty of surface area, and will serve the needs of your intended use.


Where are Podiums and Lecterns Used?

As previously mentioned, podiums and lecterns have a wide range of uses across various settings.

  1. Conferences, meetings, seminars, and presentations

  2. Political rallies and speeches

  3. Award ceremonies

  4. Competitions and debates

  5. Classrooms and lecture halls

  6. Training sessions and workshops

  7. Libraries and study halls

  8. Churches, temples, and mosques

  9. Pulpits in some congregations

  10. Courtrooms

  11. Government ceremonies and meetings

  12. Press conferences

  13. Performing arts stages

  14. Product launches and exhibitions

  15. Boardrooms and corporate meetings


What are the Different Types of Podiums and Lecterns?

Podiums and lecterns come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, each serving a variety of settings. Here are some common types:

  • Freestanding Podiums: These standalone units offer a sturdy platform for the speaker and often include storage compartments or technology features.

  • Tabletop Lecterns: This compact and lightweight option sits on top of a table or desk and is suitable for small presentations or areas with limited space.

  • Portable Lecterns: Designed for easy transport and assembly, they are often used by traveling speakers or for temporary setups.

  • Integrated Lectern-Podiums: Combining the benefits of both, these offer an elevated platform and a slanted reading surface.


What Materials Are Used to Make Podiums and Lecterns?

Podiums and lecterns can be crafted from a variety of construction materials, each with its own unique advantages and visual appeal. Here are the most common:

Traditional Materials:

  • Wood is classic and offers warmth, elegance, and durability. Popular options include mahogany, oak, maple, and cherry.

  • Metal is often used for its strength and sleekness. Stainless steel, aluminum, and steel are frequently chosen for their modern appearance and resistance to wear and tear.

Modern Materials:

  • Acrylic is a popular choice for its contemporary look, clarity, and lightweight nature.

  • Glass creates a sophisticated feel, offering elegance and a sense of openness.

Other Materials:

  • Plastic is an affordable option for basic needs or temporary use. Lightweight and portable, plastic can be molded into various shapes.

  • Recycled Materials: Some manufacturers use eco-friendly materials like bamboo or recycled plastics, appealing to sustainability-conscious customers.


Additional Considerations

Ultimately, the best podium or lectern depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. By considering the various options and their pros and cons, you can make an informed decision that suits your requirements perfectly.

Check out our options here.


Terra Sanders
About The Author

Terra Sanders, the newest addition to the Madison Liquidators team, uses her background in digital marketing, content strategy and SEO to craft thoughtful and engaging articles. She writes in a way that appeals to customers through interesting information that can help them on their office furniture buying journey.

Terra Sanders

Terra Sanders, the newest addition to the Madison Liquidators team, uses her background in digital marketing, content strategy and SEO to craft thoughtful and engaging articles. She writes in a way that appeals to customers through interesting information that can help them on their office furniture buying journey.