There is no “us” in Lectern

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In most training environments a lectern is an unnecessary barrier between you and the audience. Unless you are reading an extended portion of text or perceive your audience as hostile, as one might in the Whitehouse Press Briefing Room, think twice before you set up shop behind a lectern.

You may need it as a stand for your laptop, but there shouldn’t be a need to stand behind it for very long. Get a clicker with a built in mouse so you can run your presentation software from anywhere in the room. I’ve know instructors who take a lectern with them wherever they are teaching, as if to establish their authority with the class. In my experience this can limit a learner’s interaction with the content. The message of a lectern is a message of dissemination. You’re broadcasting; it’s not a two way conversation. It can come across as a “You are the masses and I am enlighten” approach.

Having interacted with experts in the field of teaching and leading, it’s clear that they would much rather teach one on one or is smaller settings. These leaders can be extremely effective in large settings, yet each of them understands the disadvantages created by emotional distance. This applies equally to the digital realm. 

Ever walk into a room and the first thing you feel is the tension? You couldn’t see it but there was no denying the obvious. You could literally feel the barrier. As an instructor, don’t think you are protected by the magic of the wires. If you have a lectern mind set your audience is at a disadvantage. Remember, there is no “us” in lectern.