At a recent Toastmasters meeting, one of our evaluators made the comment that most of us struggle with Pommel Horse position when speaking while using a lectern. In a world where we are encouraged to never present from behind a lectern, there are times when you won’t have a choice. The microphone might be attached to a lectern at the front of the speaking room and you are assigned to speak from there. Proper practice presenting with a lectern is crucial toward your success as a presenter.

So, let’s start first with the problem: Pommel Horse Position while speaking. Here’s what a gymnastics competitor looks like while on the pommel horse.

Pommel Horse
And, here’s pommel horse position behind a lectern.
Pommel Horse position using lectern
Look familiar?

Using the lectern to lock your hands on the sides or always return to the top platform of the lectern after a hand gesture invokes three negatives in a speech:

  1. Removes your hands and arms from the speech – If you’re hands are resting on the lectern, they’re not providing the much needed hand gestures to demonstrate your speech components.

  2. Makes you appear nervous – Clasping to the sides of a lectern may feel comfortable to you, but the audience sees you as being tense and not sure of yourself.

  3. Encourages you to talk to the lectern instead of the audience – Looking down is the kiss of death for any presenter and a great way to lose your audience. You might think people don’t notice when you look down at your notes on the lectern for a straight 40 seconds…but they do!

The solution is to challenge yourself to present from the lectern—without ever actually touching the lectern. You will practically be forced to use your hands as welcome gestures. Your eye contact with the audience will be natural and frequent. And, you’ll appear professional, prepared and in control of the speech.

Of course, there’s no better place to practice your speaking skills using a lectern or otherwise, than at the George Sutton Toastmasters club in Aurora, CO. You are welcome to come visit us.