Skip to main content

Lectern vs. Podium vs. Pulpit (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between lectern, podium, and pulpit with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

For this grammar rules post, we're going to dig into three terms that are sometimes used interchangeably, though they have different meanings. All three are often referred to when people are up speaking in front of an audience, but it's not uncommon for the wrong term to be used in a given situation.

So let's look at the differences between lectern, podium, and pulpit and when to use each.

Lectern vs. Podium vs. Pulpit (Grammar Rules)

Lectern vs. Podium vs. Pulpit

Lectern is a stand used to support notes and/or other reading materials, including drinks, laser pointers, and so on. They may also have a microphone, and many speakers stand behind them to read their work or give a presentation or address.

Podium is a raised platform someone stands on to read their work or give a presentation or address. The main function of the podium is to make it easier for an audience to see the speaker.

(Censer vs. Censor vs. Sensor.)

Pulpit is a raised and enclosed platform someone stands on to read their work or give a presentation or address. It's usually much more ornate than a typical podium and can often include an ornate lectern. This term is most commonly used in relation to religious services and for the area in which religious leaders speak.

Make sense?

Here are a few examples of lectern, podium, and pulpit:

Correct: The presenter stood behind the lectern while giving her prepared remarks.
Incorrect: The presenter stood behind the podium while giving her prepared remarks.
Incorrect: The presenter stood behind the pulpit while giving her prepared remarks.

Correct: The poet paced on the podium while delivering his poem.
Incorrect: The poet paced on the lectern while delivering his poem.
Incorrect: The poet paced on the pulpit while delivering his poem.

Correct: The pastor gave her sermon from the pulpit.
Possibly correct: The pastor gave her sermon from the lectern.
Possibly correct: The pastor gave her sermon from the podium.

Many people use lectern, podium, and pulpit interchangeably in all situations. However, people stand behind a lectern and on a podium. Standing on a lectern would look a little silly and standing behind a podium would likely obscure the speaker. The pulpit is trickier, because it may include a podium and lectern, but it's good to remember this term is mostly used in religious settings.

*****

Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

Click to continue.

From Our Readers

What Book Ended in a Way That You Didn’t Expect but Was Perfect Anyway?: From Our Readers (Comment for a Chance at Publication)

This post announces our latest From Our Readers question: What book ended in a way that you didn’t expect but was perfect anyway? Comment for a chance at publication in a future issue of Writer's Digest.

From Script

A Deep Emotional Drive To Tell Stories (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, read interviews with filmmakers Wendey Stanzler and Maria Judice. Plus a one-on-one interview with Austin Film Festival’s executive director Barbara Morgan.

Paul Tremblay: On Starting With the Summary

Paul Tremblay: On Starting With the Summary

Award-winning author Paul Tremblay discusses how a school-wide assembly inspired his new horror novel, The Pallbearers Club.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: An Interview with Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser, 5 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our interview with Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser, 5 WDU courses, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Everything Agent Websites for Writers 2022

Writer's Digest Best Everything Agent Websites for Writers 2022

Here are the top websites by and about agents as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

Ashley Poston: On Love, Death, and Books

Ashley Poston: On Love, Death, and Books

Author Ashley Poston discusses how she combined her love of ghost stories, romance, and books into her new romance novel, The Dead Romantics.

Choosing Which Movements To Put in Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Choosing Which Movements To Put in Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Trained fighter and author Carla Hoch discusses how much of a fight's details to actually put into a story, and how even with fight scenes sometimes less is more.

5 Research Tips for Writing Historical Fiction, by Piper Huguley

5 Research Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

Author Piper Huguley shares her five research tips for writing historical fiction that readers love and writers love as well.

Announcing 40 More Plot Twist Prompts for Writers!

Announcing 40 More Plot Twist Prompts for Writers!

Learn more about 40 Plot Twist Prompts for Writers, Volume 2: ALL NEW Writing Ideas for Taking Your Stories in New Directions, by Writer's Digest Senior Editor Robert Lee Brewer. Discover fun and interesting ways to move your stories from beginning to end.