Get rid of the lectern and make real contact

This post is also available in: Spanish

lectern shot by joehardy, on flickrIn the video of the speech that Steve Jobs held at the University of Stanford (see my former post), we see Steve Jobs standing behind a lectern. This is very strange for Steve Jobs. He almost never did it. And think of all the presentations given at TED conferences: there are only a few given from behind a lectern. Why?

A lectern is deadly for establishing contact with the audience. There is literally something between you and the public and this creates distance. It´s best to remove all the barriers: tables with laptops, microphones, lecterns etc. Standing behind a lectern may give you the feeling of being safe, as if you can hide yourself, but instead you´ll lose the connection.

The distance created by a lectern is sometimes used on purpose: to show power, to show who is the one in charge. Maybe that’s why politicians love them. But, is this really necessary? For some formal speeches it might be the most appropriate, but as Garr Reynolds says in his book of ‘Presentation Zen’: most lecterns are placed at the side of the stage, putting you out of the focus area. Yes, they might hear you, yes, they see your slides. But, what is the most important part of the presentation? You! Not your slides! In my next post I will talk about that.

So get rid of the lectern. As Garr Reynolds says: “It’s scary. It takes practise. But it’s worth it.”

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