Every blue moon I hear someone say “lectern.” I know what he means as I have heard it before. I know he is correct. Still, I don’t use it. Rather, I use “podium.” Lectern to me, sounds outdated, perhaps even archaic. And it is neither. I would be willing to bet a million Monopoly® dollars that very, very few people know the difference.
By definition, lectern is what you stand behind while podium is what you stand on top of. While I have read of an occasional “problem” story of mixing the two words up, I have never personally experienced or know of a problem, in my more than 25 years public speaking.
Since we have a tip, Just Say “No!” to the Podium, I thought to add this, “Did You Know?” post to our blog.
According to a few dictionaries,
|Merriam-Webster||A stand used to support a book or script in a convenient position for a standing reader or speaker.||A raised platform for a speaker, performer, or the leader of an orchestra|
|ORIGIN: Middle English lettorne, from Anglo-French leitrun, from Medieval Latin lectrinum, from Late Latin lectrum, from Latin legere to read||New Latin, from Greek podion, diminutive of pod-, pous foot|
|Oxford English||A tall stand with a sloping top to hold a book or notes, from which someone, typically a preacher or lecturer, can read while standing up.||A small platform on which a person may stand to be seen by an audience, as when making a speech or conducting an orchestra.|
|ORIGIN: Middle English: from Old French letrun, from medieval Latin lectrum, from legere ‘to read’.||Mid 18th century: via Latin from Greek podion, diminutive of pous, pod- ‘foot’.|
Look at the pictures below. You’ll see Olympic medal winners standing on a podium, an orchestra conductor standing on a podium, and a public speaker standing behind a lectern.
Photography Source: Header-Photos.com; Vancouver Olympics-Wikipedia; US Air Force Band; Red Tie-Photos.com