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Robert Barth

"Until then, we were inundated (for the most part) with talking heads behind podiums or desks on film clips."

Just an incidental: a podium is the thing you stand on, a lectern is the thing you stand behind; the latter I believe is what you're referring to in the quoted sentence. :-)

Steve Roesler

Ah, Robert, you have indeed emerged from behind the great "lectern of life" and stand alone, high upon the "podium of platitudes" for your oh-so-correct suggestion. We at All Things Workplace are taking the day off to memorize our well-worn Funk and Wagnalls to avoid such lexical lapses in the future. We applaud you.

*Dear readers: Robert has corrected our incorrect use of the word podium. Alas, we are not feeling too badly. Apparently, the University of Wisconsin has seen fit to dedicate a webpage to the all-too-common misuse of the term. (No doubt they were badgered into it). http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/podium.html

Paul Nicholas

Hi Steve,
Great item - thank you!
And a nice coincidence too - a couple of weeks ago I ran a professional development session for about 100 people on how our brains make decisions - we discussed various extracts of texts true and false, but the main activity was discussing clues to "believability" in the transcript of the first Nixon-Kennedy debate. It went down a treat.
And on the lectern/podium issue - I'm a man who doesn't know an ass from an onager and quite frankly I don't care!
Looking forward to more of your shared ideas.
Best wishes

Barry Wheeler

Great suggestions. I think the best presentation I ever gave was one in which I stepped out into the audience, talked to people, answered questions and engaged them at a level I had never done before.

It got me invited back for 3 repeat presentations!

Steve Roesler

Hi, Paul

First, let me thank you for adding "onager" to the vocabulary.

Secondly, aren't those films/transcripts a terrific teaching tool? Terrific coincidence. And the further away from the event, the more fascinating it must be, given that participants wouldn't have the emotional filters of someone who had a particular political leaning during that time period.

Alway good to have you add to the conversation.


Steve Roesler


That's a very brief but pithy commentary; I hope readers will take it to heart and see the power in it.

Nice going!

All the best,



Some people think that presenting by just rattling off stuff on their index cards or slides is easier, but in fact this can only make them more panicked, especially since they KNOW nobody would be really interested in this kind of presentation. Holding a presentation conversation-style can also give someone the jitters (hey, striking up a conversation always does), but once people start looking interested and actually respond, you're bound to loosen up a lot more.

Steve Roesler


When you used the expression "loosen up" it struck me that that is what it's all about. The more relaxed and confident the speaker, the more relaxed and confident the audience.

Thanks for that one. . .

Jane Clements

I agree with Eleanor - a bit of engagement helps the nerves ;-)

As you say Steve, the more relaxed and confident the speaker - I've seen numerous video clips of the JFK / Nixon debate - and you can't help feeling slightly uneasy when looking at Nixon. JFK had totally the opposite effect, and you feel like you 'want' to have a conversation or dialogue with him.


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