Podiums: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Written by Ellie Thien

August 3, 2017

The Good

Often the best way to use a podium is not at all. What could be worse than placing a physical barrier between you and the people you’re trying to engage? But there are times it is traditional in the setting (debates, commencements, etc.) and using a podium becomes necessary. The Good presenter doesn’t let a podium stand in their way, though. The Good presenter knows how to conquer the podium and use it to their advantage.

Signs of Good podium usage:

  • Resting hands gently on top, but still using them for natural gestures
  • Taking a few steps back to open up the body
  • Planting feet firmly on the ground to keep from swaying against the podium
  • Moving away from the podium frequently to get closer to the audience


The Bad

AKA The Boring. At some point, you’ve probably watched a speaker who uses a podium as an excuse to never move during their presentation. They might not necessarily need the podium, but it feels safe to stand behind a block of wood that separates them from the audience. This tends to lend itself to talking at their audience instead of with their audience.

Signs of Bad podium usage:

  • Standing behind the podium the entire length of the presentation
  • Resting against the podium
  • Keeping hands still and not using engaging body movements
  • Strumming fingers on top of podium or fidgeting with notes


The Ugly

Sometimes a podium makes a presenter boring, other times it makes them unbearable. This can happen when the presenter is extremely nervous and uses the podium as a crutch. While having something to hold on to might be nice for the shaky, anxious speaker, it makes the audience uncomfortable watching how they interact with the podium.

Signs of Ugly podium usage:

  • Gripping the podium forcefully as if it’s the only thing holding you up
  • Laying whole body against podium or leaning over the top
  • Staring down at notes the entire time and not looking at audience
  • Hitting the podium to emphasize a point


Don’t let your podium usage stand in the way of delivering a great message and engaging your audience. Instead, be aware of how you interact with a podium and allow it to aid you in being a confident and comfortable speaker.