It seems Toastmasters place an inordinate amount of emphasis on how much a speaker moves around on the platform. We usually consider a lectern ‘off limits’ for any experienced speaker and expect them to move around, whether or not such movement contributes to the effectiveness of the speech.
Speaking without using a lectern can be very effective, bringing the speaker closer to the audience, however it can also be distracting. The purpose of gestures, expressions and body language is to reinforce the vocal language and should only be used if they heighten or intensify the message.
Some of the greatest speeches ever made were delivered from lecterns, John F Kennedy’s inaugural address is one. Avoiding the lectern proves to the audience that the speaker has memorised the speech and does not need to refer to notes – is that important?
Is our primary goal memorisation or is it effective delivery?
Using a lectern is a skill to be learnt and one that will aid everyone when asked to give presentations as the majority of speakers at seminars etc. use a lectern.
From Speakeasy 18 – September 2000
(An extraction from an article in the May 2000 Toastmasters Magazine)