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Lecterns vs Pulpits vs Podiums: What's the Difference?

Lecterns, pulpits, and podiums are very similar, and it can be easy to make the mistake of mixing them up. What makes it more confusing is that these terms are often used interchangeably even though they actually mean different things. So what is the difference between a lectern, pulpit, and podium?

While a lectern is a stand that provides a platform to hold notes when giving a speech, a podium is a platform for the speaker themselves to stand on. A pulpit is a mixture of the two, more like a large lectern that encloses the speaker. A pulpit is often also on a raised platform.

Read on for more information about the differences between lecterns, pulpits, and podiums, as well as how to identify them.

What Is the Difference Between a Lectern, Podium, and Pulpit?

While the three terms are often used interchangeably, they do actually mean different things. There are a few key points that with help you distinguish between a lectern, podium, and pulpit. Here we’ll explain what each of them are.

What Is a Lectern?

A lectern is a slanted platform that’s designed to hold notes and sometimes a microphone to assist with speeches. This is generally used in situations where the speaker doesn’t need to be elevated, such as classrooms, offices, and even outside 10 Downing Street.

The slanted platform sits on top of a stand, which can vary in a wide range of styles. It is then balanced at the bottom with a flat base. Whilst simple in practice, they can often be highly decorative pieces that stand out and attract attention.

Lecterns are generally made from wood, but in recent years acrylic and composite lecterns have become increasingly popular due to their lighter weight and stylish designs.

What Is a Pulpit?

A pulpit is generally much larger than a lectern and usually encloses the speaker from the audience’s view (with the back exposed). These are often elevated to allow the audience to see the speaker, however, the purpose is similar to that of a lectern. They will provide a place for the speaker to talk from behind whilst holding notes, drinks, and anything else the speaker might need.

These are generally used in religious congregations, such as at a church or mosque, and provide a decorative focal point for the speaker to perform the service from. Pulpits in a church are usually made from stone or wood, however you can also buy smaller church pulpits made from a variety of materials such as acrylic and composite.

What Is a Podium?

A podium is a speaking platform that elevates the speaker above the audience and projects their voice. These can be used in conjunction with a lectern to provide somewhere for the speaker to talk from and leave their notes. 

Podiums are a widely used platform that can be found in settings such as graduations, political rallies, and conferences. They can also vary greatly in size, depending on the size of the audience, how many speakers there are, and what kind of speech is taking place.

What Is the Difference Between a Pulpit and a Lectern?

A pulpit is generally much larger and will surround the speaker from three or four sides. A lectern, on the other hand, is a simple stand that holds notes for the speaker while they talk. Pulpits will also often have steps leading up to the raised platform, whereas a lectern is designed to sit on the ground.

In general, a pulpit is normally a permanent placement whereas a lectern can be easily moved around and placed wherever it is needed.

What Is the Difference Between a Podium and a Lectern?

Podiums are much larger than lecterns as they are intended as a platform for the speaker to stand on, rather than a platform for the speaker to hold notes on. If the speaker is standing on top of the platform, it’s a podium, if they’re standing behind or to the side of it, it would be a lectern or pulpit.

High-Quality Lecterns & Pulpits From Nova Lecterns

At Nova Lecterns, we provide the highest quality lecterns and pulpits available in the UK. We’ve been making lecterns as a family-run business since 1984, and all of our products are made in our factory in Warwickshire, England. 

As members of the Guild of Master Craftsmen and the FSB, we use time-honoured skills with over 60 years of experience in design and fabrication. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our wide range of lecterns.

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