I was recently interviewed on Big Blend Radio when Lisa, the host, questioned the practice of speaking from behind the podium. Not that I really want to mince words here (so I will!), but she really meant to say “lectern.” So here’s the lowdown for those inquiring minds who need to know the difference:
A podium is small, raised horizontal surface upon which a presenter stands in order to be seen by the audience – also known as a riser or platform. Not to be confused with a dais, which is a platform specifically used for “the head table” or for a set of panelists.
A lectern, on the other hand, is a stand with a slanted top used to hold a book, speech, or notes at the proper height for a speaker to deliver his or her program. The lectern may be placed on the podium, platform, riser, or dais.
And all of these elements are part of the stage – the floor upon which the presenter stands and delivers a speech.
In today’s vernacular, all these words have mutated into a common a co-mingled meaning – but a few of us still like to quibble over precise definitions!