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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.

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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.

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