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Choosing a lectern

A pulpit style lectern
A traditional lectern


Lecterns and podiums


Sometimes people get confused between these two terms, so let's clear this up first.  A lectern is a slanted stand that a speaker stands behind when speaking and is designed to hold a book or notes on top.  Lecterns are often seen in churches where the book would be a bible.  A podium is a small raised platform (or stage) where a speaker/presenter stands and then gives a talk or a speech.  If you remember back to school assemblies, then at most schools the school stage was at the front of the school hall, where the head would normal conduct the assembly.  The school stage is effectively the podium.  A lectern is the wooden stand that the head may have stood behind.  Sometimes these have microphones on to allow the person speaking to speak normally, without straining their voice, and is amplified so that everyone in the room can hear them clearly. 


Lecterns are used in churches and other places of worship and the term pulpit is often used for a lectern as well.  In many traditional British churches there are two stands where people speak, one of the left and the other on the right side of the church.  From the congregation's viewpoint, the one on the left side is usually called the pulpit and the one on the right is called the lectern.  So a pulpit or lectern in the church are the places where the person speakering stands, which is usually raised up from the level of the congregration, and in many cases have simple or ornate lectern on top.



Wood, metal or acrylic?


Wood, metal and acrylic lecterns


This is going to come down to the lectern that you think will look best in your room, within your budget.  One thing to consider is how much of the person standing behind the lectern that you want to see.  For example, at a venue which is hosting an awards ceremony and everyone is dressed up in the best frocks and suits, then either a thin wooden or a clear plastic (acrylic or Perspex) would be good so that you can see the speaker.  Wider, non-see through lecterns, on the other hand are good for hiding nervous speakers.   In traditional churches, mahogany lecterns for pulpit areas are popular as they fit in nicely with their surroundings.


The larger wooden lecterns are good for projecting an air of authority or professionalism for the speaker.  Part of the body of the person is partially covered so that people concentrate on the speakers face, rather than what they have on their feet, for example.



Wood colours


Different colours of wood veneers


The above image shows some of the different coloured wood veneers available.  Most manufacturers offer a choice of colours to their wooden lecterns.   Most of the manufacturers has a disclaimer along the lines of that exact colours may vary as wood is a natural products and there are sometimes faults in the wood.



Height adjustable lecterns


Height adjustable lectern in high and low positions

A height adjustable lectern allows it's height to be altered, with certain limits.  This can be useful if the lectern is to be used by children in schools, wheelchairs user, like the man in the picture below, etc.  Check the adjustable heights listed on a particular lectern to make sure it fits with your usage.  The picture below shows an Opti HiLo motorised lectern:


Opti HiLow height adjustable lectern being used by a man in a wheelchair
An Opti HiLo motorised lectern



AV lecterns and confidence monitors


Audio visual lecterns either come supplied with a computer touch screen mounted on top, or have room for one with a cut out ready to place a touch screen monitor behind.  It can be a normal monitor as well and many AV lecterns have room at the top of the lectern for a standard sized keyboard as well.  This allows the speaker/presenter access to a computer during giving a speech or lectern, and this touch screen could also then be wired into a projector so that the audience can see what the speaker is seeing.  This is because the speaker normally faces the audience and a projector screen will normally be behind them.  The term 'confidence monitor' is often used to describe either a monitor or touch screen that a presenter uses, and the image for it is displayed behind them on either a projector screen or a large monitor such as a plasma screen.  Having a confidence monitor built into a lectern can be a nice feature.

An AV lectern
A Turning Leaf AV lectern


If you have a monitor, then you will need a computer attached to this.  Some of the AV lecterns are build so that you can hide a standard sized computer base unit inside them.  If considering an AV lectern, then you will need to look at the manufacturer's datasheet as this will show a diagram with measurements on so that you can see what size of screen needs to be used with it and whether a computer that you may have will fit inside it.



Portable lecterns


OPTI Trilite 200 collapsible lectern aluminium
An Opti collapsible lectern


Some lecterns are designed so that they can be easily assembled and taken down again so that they can be used between venues. 



Logos on lecterns


On many lecterns there is room to add logos, which you can either add yourself later or purchase as an optional extra:


A logo on the front of a lectern
An optional logo added the front of a Turning Leaf lectern


This can be good from a branding point of view as the lectern, and the person speaking, if what the audience will be looking at.

Lectern microphones


There are small, usually gooseneck, microphones that sit on the top of lecterns.  Many lecterns either have cut outs for these to be added on or are supplied with a microphone plus an amplifier and speaker system built into a compartment within the lectern itself, so that it just needs plugging in.



Lectern lights


 One of the purposes of a lectern is so that you can place a book or notes on top.  Some lecterns are supplied with a light on top which can then just be plugged into a normal main socket.  These can be quite useful in lecture theaters where a projector may be used to displays videos and information on a screen and the lights may be dimmed to give a clearer picture.  The image below shows an optional light pack that can be purchased for lecterns.


An optional light pack for a lectern

These can also be very useful on pulpit lecterns in churches as the lighting in mainy traditional UK churches can be quite poor.


Lecterns by usage


We have created comparison charts by usage in order to help you quickly find lecterns to suit your needs:


Audio visual    Church/Pulpit    Corporate    Education    Hotel andrestaurant    Wheelchair